Has A Loss Left You Empty, Aching or Broken?
Have you recently lost someone close to you? Have you gone through a significant life transition, such as a divorce, job loss, motherhood or a major move? Does your heart ache for what once was? Has this most recent loss brought up unresolved feelings from a past experience? Have you experienced insomnia, weight fluctuations, numbness, dizziness, aches and pains or prolonged crying spells? Have you used substances or other potentially self-harming behaviors to cope? Does the idea of accepting your loss and moving forward seem impossible?
Most people associate grief and loss with the passing of a loved one. While processing a death can come with extreme feelings of grief and confusion, other losses can also create those feelings. Whether it’s a person, relationship, job or even your sense of self – which can happen after having a new baby or making a big move – loss can cause you to feel guilty, angry, hopeless, overwhelmed or isolated. You may experience what feels like uncontrollable emotions or go completely numb and withdraw.
What You’re Experiencing Is Very Normal
Grief and loss are very common parts of the human experience. It is rare for someone to journey through life without losing someone or something very important. It’s also not uncommon for someone to decide to try therapy to work on another issue, only to realize that the underlying cause of their pain is an unprocessed loss and the emotions that loss created. Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t offer the long-term support that many people need to heal from a major loss. We are given – or give ourselves – a short time in which we are expected to heal and then it’s back to normal routines. The good news is whether you have recently experienced a loss or are still struggling to work through one from months or even years ago, therapy has been proven to be very effective. A good therapist can provide the support and gentle guidance needed to heal from loss and rediscover your sense of self and purpose.
Therapy Can Bring You Back and Help You Move Forward
Humans have an enormous capacity to heal. We intrinsically move toward health and have an innate desire to feel good. But, grief takes time to process, and sometimes what we need most is someone to witness us in a vulnerable and sad state in order to let it go. A BPS therapist who is well-qualified and experienced in grief counseling can offer you the space and support needed to uncover the root emotions connected to your loss. With help, you can better understand your grief and develop skills that will help you heal.
A BPS therapist will meet you where you are emotionally. He or she will help you determine what stage of grief you are experiencing and gently help you move on to the next. Sometimes people can get stuck in one of the stages of grief that precede acceptance – denial, anger, bargaining or depression. Healing is an individualized process and you may not go through the above stages in the “classic” order, and that’s normal and okay. What’s important, though, is that you get help identifying where you are in the grieving process. A BPS therapist will help you work through those difficult emotions and help you determine what you need to heal as you move toward acceptance.
In therapy, you can come to a place of acceptance. You can get back to who you were or, perhaps even better, understand who you are ready to be now. Once you accept and embrace the loss you suffered, it can become a special and significant part of who you’ll be moving forward. Rather than continuing to feel debilitated by your loss, you can integrate it into your life and live in a much fuller and more beautiful way.
But, you still may have questions or fears…
I’ve tried therapy and other ways to cope. I’m starting to believe that nothing will work.
Working through grief and loss takes time. Sadly, in our culture, we generally do not take the time or seek the support needed to fully process a loss. And, for some that support may not exist. Experience shows us that therapy can be a very effective way to heal from a loss and feel better. Sometimes simply talking about the loss and the emotions it has created can provide significant relief.
It’s also important that you find the right therapist – one who is highly qualified and has experience working with clients on grief and loss issues, as well as one you find easy to connect with. Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to help clients through grief and loss or who they couldn’t relate with – which won’t work and is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained to work with grief and loss issues and whose personality is a good match with yours. Once you find that good match, it is entirely possible for you to work through these difficult emotions and restore balance and harmony in yourself and within your life.
I’m afraid of what I might learn about myself or the emotions that could come up in therapy. I’ve learned skills to cope and I’m afraid that therapy will make me feel worse.
The right therapist can provide you with the support and resources you need in order to work through whatever emotions or self-discoveries you uncover. And, you’ll likely learn tools and skills to manage your emotions in healthier ways than you’re using now. Not addressing the pain associated with your loss allows it to continue to live inside of you – whether you’re doing this consciously or not. Pain can run our lives, making everything less joyous and more challenging. Uncovering and working through this pain offers us more choices. It expands our capacity to feel joy and empowers us to live the lives we want to be living.
I’ve been feeling guilty and ashamed about my thoughts. I’m afraid of what anyone – even a therapist – would think about me if I shared my true feelings.
A lot of us experience thoughts and make choices that don’t feel good. But, everything that you’re experiencing right now is okay and a natural part of the grieving process. A BPS therapist isn’t there to judge you. Rather, it’s the therapist’s role to provide you with a safe and supportive space to share any and everything as you process your loss. It’s also helpful to realize that we’re almost always our own worst critics. In therapy you’ll learn how to quiet that inner critic as you move into a healthier and happier way of life.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by bPS Director, Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and to ensure a good match between you and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you with a therapist who has expertise working with issues of grief and loss.