Best Grief Treatments
Every person on Earth will, at some point in their life, experience grief. Grief can best be described as the feeling we experience after losing someone close to our heart. The emotions we experience while grieving include profound sadness, guilt, anger, regret, and yearning. In fact, in 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a renowned Swiss-American psychiatrist, discovered that there are 5 distinct stages a person goes through in a particular order while grieving.
The 5 stages of grieving are:
- Stage 1 – Denial
- Stage 2 – Anger
- Stage 3 – Bargaining
- Stage 4 – Depression
- Stage 5 - Acceptance
How a person deals with grief has a lot to do with their belief, background, religious beliefs, and personality type.
It is important to note that we do not only grieve when someone close to us has died. The reasons we grieve can include the end of a relationship, losing a particular item, divorce, illness, and even our favorite TV series being canceled.
In general, there are 3 forms of grieving:
- Instrumental Grieving – the individual attempts to control or minimize the emotions they express. Most of those who grieve in this manner tend to be more stoic and rational than others.
- Intuitive Grieving – the individual is in a heightened state where they attempt to share the way they feel, explore the relationship or person they lost, or have intense philosophical thoughts (why am I here, what is my purpose, what is life actually about, etc.). Most of those who grieve intuitively are regarded as being more emotional than others.
- A combination of Instrumental Grieving and Intuitive Grieving
While in almost all cases, grief is not fatal, there have been cases of what is known as Broken Heart Syndrome, where an individual has actually died. Broken Heart Syndrome is believed to be caused by the body being pumped full of certain hormones after experiencing a shocking or extreme situation. These hormones cause part of the heart to swell and stop pumping blood while the rest of the heart operates as normal. This then leads to an uneven blood flow and causes cardiac arrest. Broken Heart Syndrome symptoms are almost identical to a heart attack, with the only real difference between the two is the cause since blocked arteries cause heart attacks.
What causes grief?
Any of the following can cause grief:
- Loss of a job
- Loss of a beloved pet
- Loss of a friendship
- Loss of a personal dream
- Loss of a romantic relationship
Simply put, the loss of anything important has the ability to cause grief. While grief is a normal part of life, it can be a problem if it continues for an overly long period (i.e., more than 12 months).
What are the symptoms of grief?
Grief is a complicated emotional process. There are usually several warning signs that someone is dealing with grief. Warning signs include:
- Extreme irritability
- Emotional numbness
- Emotional detachment
- A focus on what was lost
- Inability to experience or exhibit any form of joy
- Extreme sadness
- Emotional pain
- Feeling empty
- Feeling as if there is no hope
- Wishing to be with the one that is lost
- Preoccupation with death
- Inability to recall happy moments spent with the lost
- Avoiding anything that reminds them of the one who was lost
- Loss of self-identity
- Tendency to isolate
- Lack of drive or desire
- Sudden use or increased use of drugs, alcohol, or nicotine
You may be surprised to hear that grief can actually physically affect us in serious ways. It can feel as if your heart is physically aching, and certain memories cause pain in your gut. Physical symptoms brought on by grief include:
- Digestive problems
- Chest pain
- Sore muscles
What treatments are there for grief?
Several different treatments can be used to help you overcome your grief:
This form of grief therapy is similar to treating patients suffering from other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Grief psychotherapy may be done either face-to-face or online
- Face-to-Face Grief Counseling
- Online Grief Counseling
How does grief counseling work?
With grief counseling or online grief counseling, and effective grief or online grief counselor will guide you through the process of grief (including the 5 stages of grief we mentioned earlier – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Grief counseling and online grief counseling has the potential to change your life for the better. Most people can deal with it on their own and continue their lives much as they were before, while others need the help and guidance of a trained and experienced grief therapist or online grief therapist.
Both traditional in-person grief counselors and online grief counselors often use the following techniques or approaches to help patients overcome grief:
- Normalizing feelings of grief,
- Exploring questions about life
- Questioning the meaning of life,
- Grief education
- Expression of emotions
- Teaching coping skills (like setting healthy boundaries and self-care)
However, just as no two people grieve in the same way, not all grief therapists are the same. Some might specialize in grief or use different techniques and approaches. What is important is that you find a counselor or therapist, in-person or online, that you connect with and feel you can trust. You will find that most online therapy platforms allow you to switch to a different online therapist at any time if you feel the need.
How does online grief counseling work?
Many online platforms offer online grief counseling with fully trained online counselors and even specialized online grief counselors, at a far lower cost than you would expect to pay with traditional in-person therapists. Some platforms even claim that you can enjoy a month of 24 hours access to your very own specialist online grief counselor for less than a single session with an in-person therapist.
While each platform will differ from the next, their initial processes are usually quite similar.
You will be asked several questions related to your mental health and grief. This is done so that you can be matched to the most suitable online grief therapist.
You will be connected to your online grief counselor and be assigned a private therapy room that only you and your online grief counselor will ever have access to.
You will be able to communicate with your online grief therapist in several ways.
A) Text messages
Unlimited text messages – in most situations, you can message your online grief counselor in your private therapy room at any time of the day. You will then receive a notification as soon as they respond to your message.
B) Instant messages
You can have a live conversation with your online therapist in your private therapy room. Since these conversations are live, you will have to schedule a session, and you may be charged an additional fee.
C) Voice calls
Another form of live communication, you connect with your online grief counselor via a voice call using either a landline or cellphone. As with any other form of live communication, you will first need to schedule a session. When it is time for your session, you enter your private therapy room. Your online grief counselor will then prompt you to begin the voice call. In most cases, you will never have to share your number with your online therapist. You enter your phone number into a system that then connects you to your online grief therapist. Since these conversations are live, you will have to schedule a session, and you may be charged an additional fee.
D) Video calls
These work almost the same as the live voice calls, with the only difference being that it is a video call rather than a voice call.
2. Medical treatment
Most cases of grief do not merit treatment via medications. However, in circumstances where the individual is suffering from grief for an extended period, it may be classed as clinical depression. The answer may lie in antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications like Wellbutrin, Effexor, and Lexapro in these situations.
However, and as with most medications, antidepressants/anti-anxiety medications do come with side effects. The side effects that come with medication for grief may include:
- Weight gain
What is important to note is that the side effects of the medication mirror the symptoms of grief, anxiety, and depression because of this. It is highly recommended that you consult your doctor if you experience any of the above.
As we mentioned earlier, those suffering from grief may be prone to the sudden use or increased use of drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. And with anti-depressants being known as addictive medication, those dealing with grief are more likely than most to become addicted to their medication.
3. Alternative Therapies
- Art therapy
- Walking therapy
- Cooking therapy
- Laughter yoga
- Creative writing
Where can I find help using online grief counseling?
How long does grief counseling last?
We have all heard the saying “time heals all wounds,” but many disagree and argue that a person never truly recovers from losing a loved one. In fact, 15% of people who have lost someone suffers from “complicated grief,” a form of persistent grieving that lasts more than a year. Grief counseling is required when a person’s own process of internal healing has ground to a halt. However, if you are working with a traditional in-person grief counselor or a fully qualified online grief counselor, specifically trained at helping you process your grief and work through your pain, you should notice a gradual decrease in the symptoms associated with grief as time passes.
If we have loved, we will grieve.
Grief is an inevitable part of life, and it forever changes who we are and how we see things. However, it should not be the end of our lives or love, and over time the pain will fade. Grief counseling is the best way to help us process the loss we have experienced and get over the worst of the heartache and pain. Today, thanks to the advent of online counseling, grief therapy is more accessible and cheaper than ever before. Numerous reputable online grief therapy platforms can connect you to a highly qualified and fully trained online grief counselor for just a fraction of what you would expect to pay for traditional in-person therapy.