moving forward after

your loss

what is grief?

The experience of loss may be one of the few events that everyone has dealt with, or will have to one day deal with. Loss can come in many ways, including major losses such as loss of a loved one, friend, or pet, divorce or change in family structure, loss of an ability to work, a change in financial responsibilities, the break-up of a romantic relationship or friendship, or the loss of anything else that you value. While death, accidents, and any other sudden loss in your life may seem a more obvious stressor than others, it is always important for you to acknowledge that only you can define what loss means to you and how you will grieve.

Almost everyone responds to loss with some level of grief. Grief, the process of managing your loss, is very personal and exclusive to you. How you navigate feelings of grief, and for how long, will be unique, and can be impacted by previous experiences of loss, grief or trauma. While there are many models that describe the stages of grief, most all agree that typically you will experience feelings of anger, sadness and guilt, as you navigate the grieving process.

As you work through the grieving process, you will likely experience a range of emotions, some which may be easily attributed to the loss, and others that may be more subtle. Sadness, tearfulness and a sense of feeling unsettled by the loss are common feelings. Likewise, feelings of anger, loss of control and anxiety, often mixed with feelings of guilt or responsibility for the loss, are typical. As you manage your grief, you will likely experience one or more of these emotions at any given time, and it is important to understand that all emotions you are or may be feeling are normal. It is also important to recognize that you will recover.

Do any of these grief symptoms describe you?
  • In addition, you may experience some of the following:

  • Loss of sleep, poor sleep, or sleeping too much

  • Changes in appetite

  • Withdrawal from people or hobbies

  • Irritability

  • Tearfulness

  • Changes in mood

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling cynical or resentful

  • Feeling unsafe

  • Racing thoughts or pre-occupation with the loss

  • Increased substance use

  • Reckless or impulsive behavior

  • Suicidal thoughts

Experiencing a loss can have a significant impact on how you experience the world, how you think about the world, and how you respond to your environment and community.  You may think that your loss was not “that bad” or may find yourself comparing your loss to others, minimizing your own loss and likewise invalidating your own feelings and thoughts. When we experience loss, and subsequent grieving, we often take time to reflect on the “meaning of life” and how our “meaning” may sometimes change as a result of a loss. This can be a very painful process, but with support, can often lead to healing, recovery and personal growth. Here at Catalyss Counseling, we hope to offer you support through your grieving process, as well as work with you to find meaning in your loss, so that you may continue to find joy in your life along with continued personal growth and wellness.

grief and loss facts:

Did you know that:

  • 2.5 million people pass away in the United States each year, and for each loss, on average, 5 people will grieve the loss of that person in some way or another, impacting almost 12.5 million people.

  • 1.5 million children, or 5% of children in the United States, will lose one or both parents by the age of 15, and 6 million, or 20%, will experience the loss of a loved one by the age of 18.

  • As you grow older, you are at higher risk of losing a loved one, spouse or friend, and due to rising mortality rates amongst middle-aged adults, children are more likely to experience the death of a parent, and likewise, middle-aged adults are more likely to experience the loss of a spouse.

  • Increased rates of divorce or separation has led to 68% of children living in “non-traditional” homes, in which one or both parents are not present.

  • Between 2015-2017, 3 million people lost jobs they had held for more than 3 years, with 33% not having found employment within a year of the job loss.

  • Statistics about pet deaths are difficult to determine, but it is likely that within your lifetime, most people will experience the loss of at least one pet.

  • Relationship break-ups are another significant type of loss that most adults will experience at least once in their lifetime.

Common Stages Grief:

One of the more widely accepted models of grief suggests that the grieving process will likely include 5 stages. Some people will go through each stage sequentially, while others will shift between stages or may not experience every stage. While every person’s grieving process is unique, it can often be helpful to know that what you are experiencing is normal and common.

Stage 1: Denial

During this stage of grief, you may be inclined to avoid the reality of the loss. In the case of a death, you may feel like you are “living a dream” and will just wake up. In the event of a divorce, loss of job or loss of a friend, you may believe that “this is just a phase” or something that can be easily rectified. During this stage, your mind is attempting to process the shock of the loss and make it feel manageable.

Stage 2: Anger

During this stage of grief, you may experience intense feelings that are difficult to manage or verbalize, and at times you may feel anger, rage, cynicism and blame towards others for the loss. It is during this stage that you may feel out of control and just grasping to make some sense of the loss. Anger can also be a way that you withdraw from others, pushing them away because you feel too overwhelmed with your feelings. Anger can present itself as anger towards others or anger towards yourself.

Stage 3: Bargaining

During this stage of grief, you may have a lot of thoughts about the “what if’s” of the loss. You may blame yourself for doing something, or not having done enough. You may become pre-occupied with what “could have been done” and you may find yourself pre-occupied with how you need to be better to prevent loss in the future. During this stage, you may be experiencing a large range of emotions and attempting to regain control.

Stage 4: Depression

During this stage of grief, you may begin to feel less activated than in the previous stages, moving from anxiety and anger to feeling overwhelmed and fatigued, and sometimes numb. You may begin to have more cynical thoughts about the world and its meaning, your own safety and security, and you may feel hopeless that this will ever go away. You may even have suicidal thoughts. You are beginning to understand your emotions but your mind and body are exhausted from the process. During this stage, you may begin to feel “heavy” because you are beginning to really understand your emotional experience.

Stage 5: Acceptance

During this stage of grief, you begin to feel a greater sense of control, and you have begun to make meaning of the loss in the greater context of your life. However, this is still a stage of the grieving process, and while closure may benefit you long-term, it can also be a painful and difficult time. During this stage, you may benefit from rallying your supports and resources to understand your needs, while also being patient with yourself as pass through the grieving process.

grief and loss treatment with catalyss counseling

Most people will seek therapy as they begin to experience the depression stage, as this is the time when people tend to be more reflective on how the loss has impacted them, and it is during this stage that you may often experience the greatest feelings of internal distress. This is also a time when becoming more isolated, irritable or withdrawn can lead to conflicts in interpersonal relationships, another impetus for people seeking therapy. It is at this time when people feel the greatest need for support, and oftentimes a professional can provide support that family and friends may not be able to, due to their own grieving.

As you work through your grieving process, you will experience a range of different emotions and thoughts. Some days will feel more difficult than others, and this is a normal part of the grieving process. Our therapists will work with you to identify your immediate needs, and will support you as you develop coping skills to manage daily feelings and stressors, such as work, family responsibilities and maintaining basic health through sleep, nutrition and exercise. We will also work with you maintain healthy relationships that are important to your overall well-being.

Catalyss Counseling specializes in treatment grief and loss. Our therapists will continue to support you as you gain understanding of how your loss has impacted your sense of meaning in life and your spiritual and religious beliefs surrounding loss and grieving. We will also focus on how to utilize your resiliency, past experiences, and community supports and resources to navigate through the grieving process, allowing you to feel empowered again, regain a sense of hope and meaning, and a continued path of recovery and self-growth. The end result of therapy for grief and loss at Catalyss Counseling is Moving Forward After Your Loss.

does therapy work?

Therapy and lasting change take time and commitment. While therapy isn’t often easy, you get out of it what you put in. If you come in with honesty, trust in the process, and a willingness to change, you can expect to see lasting results.

Therapy and grief and loss treatment with Catalyss Counseling can help you feel content Moving Forward After Your Loss. All of our therapists have specialized training and experience in treating grief and loss, and we know that therapy does help. If you’d like to talk to someone more about how we treat grief and loss, contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation, or you can book directly online with the therapist of your choice.