When processing the death of a loved one, many people seek out professional help when learning how to live with their loss. This feelings of loss and grief can be overwhelming for many, and speaking with a skilled psychotherapist can help people navigate this painful and stressful life event.
People experience and process loss in different ways, and some find it difficult to cope. Some common feelings that many clients experience include shock, anxiety, sadness, anger, and guilt. Loneliness and isolation are other common emotions, making the support of family and friends important during this time. For others, there seem to be no feelings at all, just a sense of numbness.
Psychotherapy helps those experiencing a loss validate their feelings. Also known as talk therapy, this type of counselling provides clients with a safe space to express their emotions and find acceptance.
These sessions can be very helpful for those that are processing loss on their own. Many families and couples also choose to attend counselling together so they can learn how to lean on each other during this difficult time and find closure.
During loss counselling, your psychotherapist will explain the stages of grieving as a way to guide a client’s journey. Using a variety of different techniques, they help people develop a new relationship with the loved one they just lost. Instead of thinking back in sadness or anger, the goal of therapy is to build healthy and happy memories that you can feel at peace with.
Therapy Techniques For Loss
When processing a loss, psychotherapists use several strategies to help a client cope with loss. The goal with each approach is to give clients the tools to be able to become their own therapist. Some common techniques include:
• Practicing meditation to help calm anxious thoughts and clear the mind
• Navigating the back story of their relationship with their loved one
• Keeping a journal to understand emotions and make connections
• Sharing stories about their loved one that might be difficult to bring up with family and friends
• Discussing what they would say to their loved one if they could
• Exploring dreams about their loved one, which can be common while processing grief
True to the core of talk therapy, many techniques include assessing the client’s relationship with their loved one from different angles. These conversations might be difficult to have with friends and family, who either are processing the loss on their own or might even feel awkward bringing the topic up. Psychotherapy presents a safe, non-judgmental space to be able to dissect and analyze thoughts and make a start toward acceptance.
As one of Canada’s top 10 best psychotherapists, Melissa Cutler has spent the past 20 years gaining clinical and research experience across hospital, community, and public sector settings, including as a social worker. With advanced training in cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma counselling, and chronic pain management, she helps patients process the loss of a loved one in healthy, constructive ways. Book online for a psychotherapy appointment at her office on Yonge and Lawrence near the subway.