Support for Grief and Loss Through Christian Counseling
As humans, we will all experience loss at one time or another. It may be as devastating as the loss of a close loved one, or it may be a circumstantial loss such as a health problem or an unfulfilled dream.
Because loss is an inevitable part of life, grief is a condition we will all become familiar with at some point. To grieve is to experience a natural response to the pain of a loss.
While grief itself is natural, knowing how to respond to it doesn’t come instinctively for everyone. Healing from a loss is difficult to handle on your own. Learning how to handle grief is a process.
Isolation often plagues someone who is grieving, and this compounds their sadness and can lead to feeling stuck in endless longing and regret.
Processing your loss in a counseling setting can be an invaluable help in responding to grief. Faith-based Christian counseling offers a compassionate setting for your healing journey. The skilled counselors at Newport Beach Christian Counseling offer experienced, caring counseling for grief and loss.
Facing Loss, Bereavement, and Grief
The loss of a loved one is one of the most devastating experiences anyone can have. We are shaped and affected in countless ways by the people we’re closest to. When we lose someone close to us, whether through the ending of a relationship or the death of a spouse, family member, or friend, it can feel like a part of who we are is missing, and life will be forever changed in ways we may never have anticipated.
When Marie’s mother Jill died, it was completely unexpected. Even though she’d been sick with lupus, she was healthy overall, and neither she nor Marie expected her to die suddenly.
Marie talked with her mom the day before she died. Jill was experiencing a lot of pain that day. She regularly managed her pain with various medications, but they weren’t helping as much as they should have. Marie tried to get her mom to see a doctor, but Jill didn’t want to, so Marie went about her day, getting ready for work and taking care of her own daughter.
The next day, Marie received the news that her mother had passed away from an accidental medication overdose. This sent Marie into a tailspin of shock, denial, and guilt.
The story of each person’s loss is unique, and so is their experience of the grieving process. Grief is a normal response to many different kinds of loss. The feelings associated with grief include sadness, anger, longing, and guilt.
The word bereavement is used to describe the death of a loved one specifically.
Grief is a response to various forms of loss such as:
- Death of a spouse or family member.
- Loss of a close friend.
- Death of a pet.
- End of a romantic relationship.
- Serious illness of self or a loved one.
- Loss of physical ability.
- Life changes and transitions.
- Loss of a goal or dream.
One of the most difficult aspects of grief is a sense of being far away from God. You might be struggling with questions, doubts, and a feeling of isolation.
You are not alone. God is the kind and loving heavenly Father who promises peace in times of trouble. He is the light in our darkness.
At Newport Beach Christian Counseling, we will work with you to process your grief throughout the therapeutic process, and we strongly believe in the healing power of faith. We will help you find all the resources available to you for healing, including the wisdom of God’s Word and effective Christian counseling for grief and loss.
Christian Counseling for Grief and Loss: Who Can Benefit?
Anyone who is struggling with loss can benefit from Christian counseling for grief and loss. Coping with the intense emotions, physical symptoms, and sometimes destructive behaviors associated with grief can be hard to manage alone. You might become stuck in a never-ending hole of grief, making you feel disconnected from others, and unable to think of anything but the loss you feel.
If you have experienced a loss and are grieving as a result, you can benefit from Christian counseling for grief and loss. It’s very difficult to manage the overwhelming nature of grief on your own, since it often includes physical symptoms and intense emotions, and can even trigger destructive behaviors.
In Marie’s case, she struggled with a great deal of guilt and self-blame for her mother’s death. She felt unprepared to lose a parent at such a young age, and she thought she should’ve been able to prevent this untimely loss.
Losing a loved one is a deeply painful but normal part of life. In some cases, we’re able to adjust after a loss and process our grief effectively over time, but in other instances, the grief is more difficult to cope with. Using Marie’s situation as an example, we can see how the trauma of a sudden, unexpected loss combined with misplaced guilt and confusion can complicate the grieving process and make it very difficult to work through. This is when Christian counseling for grief and loss can be especially important.
Especially when you’re overwhelmed with grief, it can be hard to know when and where to seek help, and whether you’re processing your emotions in a healthy way.
Here are some signs that it may be time to seek help from a Christian counselor for grief and loss:
- You’re having trouble trusting others.
- You have thoughts of death or suicide.
- You feel stuck in spinning or racing thought patterns.
- You are having trouble functioning in your daily activities.
- You feel isolated and cut off from others for more than a few weeks.
- You feel like your life isn’t worth living anymore.
- You blame yourself for the loss.
When you seek Christian counseling for grief and loss, you will be provided with a professional Christian counselor who will compassionately walk with you through the grieving process. When you begin grief counseling in Newport Beach our priority is to support you as you work through your loss at your own pace.
Understanding Thoughts and Behaviors Related to Grief
Grief causes intense emotions that make a significant impact on the grieving person’s emotional and mental state. The effect of these emotions can be so debilitating that everyday functioning is no longer possible.
Let’s talk about Marie’s situation again. As time went by after the death of her mother, Marie still struggled to function normally. Other loved ones seemed to be dealing with the loss and learning to cope, but Marie quit her job and had trouble taking care of herself and her daughter.
She felt consumed by depression, anger, and self-blame. She had relied so much on her mother as a strong figure in her life, and now that she was gone, Marie felt empty and out of control.
Marie’s grief spiraled into an endless repetition of negative thoughts: “I could have done more… It’s my fault… This isn’t real… I can’t live without my mom.” These thoughts are common during the grieving process.
Christian counseling for grief and loss will help you learn how to manage the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing and help you find freedom from destructive emotional and behavioral patterns.
Grief-related thoughts can include both positive and negative ideas, such as:
- How could God do this?
- It was too early.
- This is my fault.
- At least they had a good, fulfilling life.
- Life is meaningless.
- At least their suffering is over.
- I feel completely alone.
- I should have been there.
Common behaviors related to grief also run the gamut from healthy to unhealthy:
- Questioning the meaning of life and feeling angry at God.
- Honoring the memory of the loved one.
- Spending time with other loved ones.
- Bouts of crying and laughing.
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks.
- Purposely isolating from family and friends.
- Distracting oneself by staying busy with cleaning, exercising, work, etc.
- Processing feelings with others.
The Grieving Process
It’s important to note that the grieving process looks different for everyone. Some individuals walk through each stage of grief and are able to resume normal functioning within a period of six months or so, albeit experiencing intermittent periods of sadness in relation to the loss.
For other people, it takes around a year for them to notice a significant decrease in the daily heaviness of their sadness, while others may continue to grieve intensely for years with only occasional remittance.
The way a person processes grief depends on other factors such as depression, trauma associated with the loss, and the relationship and level of dependence the person had with their loved one.
Grief counseling in Newport Beachtakes all of these factors and ways of grieving into consideration to help offer individualized solutions for healing.
Stages of Grief
While everyone’s grieving process is different, for the most part, grief falls into a general pattern. An individual sometimes progresses through these stages in a recognizable order, but sometimes the process is non-linear, or certain stages are skipped.
The stages of grief include:
- Denial – “This isn’t happening.”
- Anger – “This is your fault.”
- Bargaining – “I’ll do anything to keep this from happening.”
- Depression – “I can’t deal with the sadness.”
- Acceptance – “This is real, and I’m going to be okay.”
The grief process is natural and normal, but that doesn’t mean that we automatically know how to process grief well, especially in today’s American culture where we’ve lost the art of lament and an expected structure for grieving.
One of the most important things to know about grief is that community and relationships are vital to the grieving process. While some people tend to respond to the emotions associated with a loss in a healthy way, others tend to respond destructively.
Cycling through periods of extreme sadness and other intense emotions is normal, and it’s also normal to have periods of relative normalcy before the strong emotions return. Throughout this pattern, though, we hope to see a person making a general progression towards healing and moving forward with their lives in spite of their loss.
If we can’t identify signs of general progression through the grieving process, it’s likely that the individual has become stuck in their grief, which is hindering their everyday functioning. This is known as complicated grief.
It happens when grief becomes so overwhelming that it’s disabling. Complicated grief is identified when a person has been debilitated by their grief with little to no improvement after a year has passed.
Signs of complicated grief include:
- Lack of desire to engage in normal activities.
- Difficulty engaging in happy memories of the person who is gone.
- Longing for the lost one.
- Persistent, unvarying bitterness or anger.
- Avoidance of reminders of the lost one.
- Preoccupation with the lost person or the circumstances surrounding the loss.
- Persistent, unvarying sadness.
What causes complicated grief? It depends on the person and situation. Often, people who struggle with depression can have a harder time processing a loss. If you feel that your grief is being complicated by depression, Christian counseling for depression [link] along with grief counseling in Newport Beach might help.
Dealing With Traumatic Loss
If you’ve lost a loved one suddenly, tragically, or violently, you might be dealing with a traumatic loss. Traumatic loss can be very difficult to bear, leaving you with physical, mental, and emotional pain. Effects of traumatic loss can include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD include:
A traumatic loss happens when someone dies suddenly, tragically, or violently. This is extremely difficult for loved ones to cope with, causing lasting physical, mental, and emotional pain and scars. Traumatic loss can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Reliving details of the traumatic event through memories, nightmares, and flashbacks.
- Avoiding people, places, or events that are reminders of the traumatic event.
- Emotional sensitivity, anger, fear, and feeling “jumpy.”
- Difficulty sleeping.
Experiencing the loss of a loved one is difficult for everyone, but when the loss is tied to a tragic event, healing can feel completely out of reach. Christian counseling for grief and loss can help you process this incredibly devastating experience and learn to manage the associated emotions so that you can heal and over time return to a functioning life. Christian counseling for trauma [link] can also be invaluable in this process.
The counselors at Newport Beach Christian Counseling have walked with many clients through the grieving and rebuilding process. We can help whether you’re suffering from complicated grief, a recent loss, a traumatic loss, or any other kind of grieving issue.
Christian Counseling for Grief and Loss: Helping You Persevere
If you feel overwhelmed and are having trouble functioning due to your grief, Christian counseling for grief and loss can be a welcome respite and source of strength as you recover. Depending on your situation, various kinds of counseling may be appropriate. These can include:
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling (where you can share your journey with others walking a similar path)
- Family counseling
- Trauma counseling
After Marie had been struggling for some time, her husband suggested she talk to a Christian counselor about her grief. During the therapeutic process, Marie processed the guilt she was experiencing and was able to move through the stages of grief without being overwhelmed by negative thoughts and behaviors.
The freedom to fully express her emotions in counseling was a huge relief, and she found growth in her faith as she progressed through the healing process. Best of all, she found healing in honoring her mother’s memory and using what she’d learned from her mom to build a strong relationship with her own daughter.
We are blessed to witness transformations like Marie’s on a regular basis at Newport Beach Christian Counseling. We want to see you experience healing and stability through Christ’s love and mercy. In Christian counseling for grief and loss, we will work with you to help you:
- Accept the reality of the loss.
- Understand and work through grief.
- Adjust to life without the deceased.
- Maintain a healthy connection to the deceased.
At grief counseling in Newport Beach, your grief counselor will take an individualized approach to your recovery. You’ll be able to share how your loss and grief are affecting your life. Here are some steps that might be included in the counseling process:
- Talking about your lost loved one, your memories with them, and the effect they had on your life.
- Spending quality time with family and friends on a consistent basis.
- Learning how to express your grief in creative and healing ways.
- Set goals for yourself and your future.
- Take good care of your physical health through good nutrition and exercise.
- Honor your loved one’s memory in a meaningful way.
Rest assured that you will not receive a one-size-fits-all approach, but one that addresses your unique needs. Our experienced Christian counselors want you to know that there is hope and healing through faith in Christ. We want to utilize all resources for healing and peace, including God’s Word.
Finding Peace in Grief
One of the worst parts of suffering a loss is the feeling that life will never seem normal again. Hopelessness might overcome you for a time, but the level of pain you’re experiencing now will not remain this way forever. Our compassionate staff at Newport Beach Christian Counseling is here for you. Call us at (949) 386-7178 or contact us online.