The greatest argument against grief and loss therapy today is that, if it wasn’t around decades ago, why would anyone need it today? This argument depends on the assumption that it was never needed before so shouldn’t be needed now. PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, has been dismissed by some for the same reason, but the thinking here is specious.
The idea that something like grief therapy is new is like saying that PTSD is new, but the truth is that it’s always been there just like grief. Soldiers who returned from World War I and II usually experienced what was then called “shell shock”, but that was rarely talked about, even amongst family members. The result was that veterans had terrible mental health issues because of that repression. Today, the world of psychiatry knows when people experience PTSD and they know how to treat it. It’s always been there, it was just under a different name and hidden from view.
The same thing is true of grief and loss therapy. Grief and loss were always there in the past, they were just repressed more often or kept out of view rather than appropriately dealt with, which also resulted in poor mental health for the people affected.
If there’s one thing that’s become clear in recent years is that not dealing with one’s own grief, especially when it involves losing someone, can result in serious mental, and even physical, consequences for the individual in question. Thankfully, the psychiatric world has recognized this and created grief therapy.
For some, the process of grief is something that everyone goes through and eventually, they move on. Here are the normal stages of grief:
First, people tend to go into denial over the loss of a loved one. This means that the first reaction to such a tragic event is to deny that it’s happening to the person at all. In other words, people will literally say something along the lines of “This isn’t happening to me.” This reaction is usually pretty brief and is a temporary coping mechanism for such a surge of emotion in a short period of time.
Next is a tendency to resort to anger. This is really the consequence of the feeling of not having any control over what has occurred. This can be one of the more dangerous stages of grief in just how it manifests itself.
Bargaining is the third stage of grief where people will try to make a deal with a higher power to “get them out” of their current circumstances. This can also involve people wondering what they could have done to have avoided the person’s death.
After bargaining comes depression. This is the most well known, and usually the longest stage of grief where a deep sadness takes hold of a person. There is no set rule as to exactly how long this stage of grief should last, but it can be weeks, months, and in some extreme cases, years. This is the stage where everyone knows what happens. There can be a lack of appetite, a lack of sleep, and a lot of tears.
Finally, most people then come to the final stage of grief where they accept what has happened and move on with their lives.
It is also this last stage of grief that can be the most difficult to achieve. Most people will go through the first few stages of grief fairly quickly, but it’s when people get into a lasting depression over the loss of a loved one that there can be serious consequences.
This is where depression can cause major problems in a person’s life. It can affect them physically because they can’t eat and/or can’t sleep. Their professional lives can suffer as well if they start missing work or are unable to concentrate on their jobs. Some people can even lose their jobs as a result of grief. Not only that, but people’s mental health can also begin to disintegrate if they don’t seek help for these extended periods of grief that don’t seem to stop.
This is where grief therapy becomes the most important tool for these people to use. When a person finds themselves unable to move on from a loss in their lives, they need outside help to guide them through the process of grief so that they too can move on to a happy, productive life.
There are a few different methods that therapists use, but many start with allowing the grieving person to simply talk about their loss and what they’re going through. It may appear to be a simple solution, but for many people just talking out their problems really helps.
The need for grief and loss therapy has become a major requirement and resource to people today and is something that the modern world can’t do without.