Therapy for Grief and Loss

People often feel traumatized, disoriented or immobilized after a major loss. I help you cope with the dark territory of bereavement with education, support and problem-solving, so you can:

  • Get re-oriented after a major loss
  • Recognize the stages of grief to avoid compounding the pain. These stages go by many names, including shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, resolution, and acceptance
  • Reconcile shame, guilt, remorse, or other difficult feelings
  • Have a safe place for coping with intense feelings
  • Get help managing your life while grieving, including relationship or mental health issues made worse by loss

Although experienced with emergencies, that is not my practice focus. As an outpatient therapist I work with people who can reliably cope, are not at risk or in crisis, do not have thoughts of self-harm, and are seeking to grow.

I help the bereaved for a variety of concerns, including:

Losing a Loved One

  • Death or other loss of a family member, including estrangement
  • Becoming a widow or widower after many years of marriage
  • Heartbreak from losing a romantic relationship
  • Death of a pet. Some losses are recognized by everyone as overwhelming. Other losses may not bring enough support for the grief-stricken person. A typical loss of that kind is the death of a pet, which some experience with the intensity of losing a family member.

Lost or Disrupted Career

  • Job loss or career disruption
  • Financial loss
  • Damaged reputation

Personal Losses

  • Changes in physical or mental health or bodily function
  • Effects of aging on appearance and abilities
  • Realizing that a cherished dream will never be fulfilled
  • Losses due to drug abuse or addiction relapse, including loss of the emotional escape provided by addictions (may include referral to residential treatment, 12-step program and/or physician)

Relationship Issues

  • Loved ones failing to provide needed support
  • Family members telling you to “get over it” before you’re ready or otherwise telling you how you “should” react
  • Friends leaving you isolated or showing discomfort in conversation

Consequences

  • Lifestyle changes, such as the need to move out of your home, get help for chores or consider an assisted living facility
  • Mental health issues triggered by loss, such as depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety or isolation (may include referral to physician and other resources)
  • Spiritual or religious consequences, such as anger at God, damaged or lost faith, unanswered questions or prayers, superstitions and fears
  • Damaged self-esteem
  • Difficulty meeting job or family responsibilities
  • Trying to self-medicate your grief with drinking, drugs or other addictions (people with active addictions are referred to resources to help them get sober)

The list of issues above is by no means complete but is provided to give you a sense of what is often seen by a psychotherapist. One of my goals here is to let you know that you’re not alone, even if you’re suffering from a loss that seems unusual. There are many resources in the community for coping with grief and loss.

If your issue is one I haven’t covered, I’ll be glad to discuss its possible treatment and resolution.

To schedule a first appointment please select this link.

Footnotes

1. Brody, J. ( 2004) “Often, time beats therapy for treating grief ” In The New York Times, Personal Health, January 27, 2004. Downloaded 2/15/09 from: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage/?res=9E01E1DF1438F934A15752C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all
2. Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. New York: Touchstone Books.
3. Nauert, R. (2007a). “Normal grief emotions clarified.” Downloaded from PsychCentral.com, 2/15/09 from: http://psychcentral.com/news/2007/02/21/normal-grief-emotions-clarified/640/
4. Maciejewski, P. K., et al., “An empirical examination of the stage theory of grief.” In JAMA, 2007; 297: 716-723.
5. Nauert, R. (2007b). “Grief counseling is okay.” Downloaded from PsychCentral.com, 2/15/09 from: http://psychcentral.com/news/2007/07/30/grief-counseling-is-okay/1079/
6. Carey, B. (2007). “Many diagnoses of depression may be misguided, study says” In The New York Times, April 3, 2007. Downloaded 2/15/09 from: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/health/psychology/03depr/?_r=1