Comments on grief and grieving.

I talk to quite a few people who complain about being sad, having low energy, and “crying for no reason.” While most of my clients are thinking along the lines of depression, the first thing that pops to mind for me, the counselor, is grief.

What is going on/has gone on with the person in front of me? Has she lost a pregnancy in recent months? Has he lost his beloved grandfather, the man who raised him since eight years old? Was she fired from a job that she loved and poured her heart into? All of these circumstances can produce intense longing, emptiness, and sadness we call grieving.

Society tells us that we are allowed to be sad (often for a very short period of time), then we must pick ourselves up and “get back to it.” Employers frequently only offer 3 days (or less) for death of a family member, but it must be a CLOSE family member; otherwise, you get one day off to grieve the loss of a cousin, uncle, or step-grandparent.

I believe grief is not something we just “get over”. Grief is a lifelong process that sometimes seems really big and overwhelming at first. However, under usual circumstances, that grief begins to fade until the crying, sadness, lack of energy, and isolation starts to go away. I encourage all my clients not to rush through this transformation. I also remind that everyone’s timeline for processing grief is personal and individual; what takes your spouse a few weeks may take you a few months or more.

So when do you seek counseling? What are the signs that your grief is not ‘processing’ as would be expected? It’s important to remember that any condition, whether it’s grief, anxiety, depression, or panic attacks, should be measured by how much of your life it is taking from you. For example, if you lose your job because you can’t get out of bed for several weeks after the death of your pet, that could be a reason to come to counseling to talk about it. In other words, you should consider whether the quality of your “before” life is suffering as a result of a grief episode. If it is, it may be time to schedule an appointment.

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”~A.A. Milne, “The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh”