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  • Writer's pictureTamer Ghanima

Helping Clients Cope with Loss and Grief

Grief is a complex process involving painful emotional adjustments. The dimensions of loss and grief can include:

  • Strong deep-seated emotions

  • Loss of social networks

  • Changes in lifestyle

  • Struggling with everyday practicalities

  • Loss of meaning and purpose

  • Loss of self-esteem and self-worth

  • Physical manifestations eg tightness in chest and throat.

Whatever the circumstances of loss and grief the following guidelines can be effective in grief counselling:

  • Help the bereaved actualize the loss: The best way is to talk about the loss.

  • Help identify and express feelings. Numerous feelings may not be recognised or may be intentionally avoided. Such feelings as anger, guilt, anxiety and helplessness may be problematic for the bereaved.

  • Facilitate their ability to live without the deceased. Problem solving and decision making techniques can be useful here.

  • Help find meaning in the loss.

  • Facilitate emotional relocation of the deceased. While the deceased will always have a special place in one’s heart, it is ok to form new relationships as part of the process of moving on with life.

  • Provide time to grieve: Grieving is a process that requires time. Recognise that certain times such as birthdays may evoke painful emotions.

  • Interpret normal behaviour. Reassuring patients that their grieving is normal.

  • Allow for individual differences in the grieving process. The intensity and time differs from individual to individual.

  • Examine defenses and coping styles. Help the patient to examine his or her coping styles. This allows the identification of both functional and dysfunctional coping strategies for dealing with the loss.

  • Identify pathology and refer.

Source: Mental Health Academy

Psychological healing outcomes are enhanced by responding quickly to the initial presenting issue. With this in mind, Eltham Counselling is moving to a 72 hour or less appointment response for your patients.


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