Throughout our lives, we find ourselves faced with difficult situations that test our ability to overcome pain and adapt to the new reality. Confronting loss at some point is inevitable, and overcoming it healthily is one of the toughest challenges we can encounter, especially when we have lost a loved one.
For this reason, having help in mourning will be very beneficial so that the person who is suffering this situation can cope with the pain without getting stuck in any of the phases of the healing process.
What happens when you lose a loved one?
After the death of a family member, friend or partner, a complex process of adaptation begins, the intensity and duration of which can vary significantly depending on each person and their particular circumstances.
Experiencing pain is inevitable and necessary at this time, and the opposite would be problematic. Integrating loss into our lives is a task for which we will need to use all the tools at our disposal, both internal and external, to first understand what mourning is and then manage our own emotions, go through this process and continue with our lives.
Although there is no single way to experience loss, the most widespread classification of the five phases of grief that generally appear after loss is as follows:
- Denial. Disbelief in the face of what has happened appears as an initial protection mechanism to distance oneself emotionally from reality.
- Anger. Rage at what happened arises when the person becomes aware of the loss.
- Negotiation. At this stage, the person tries to find solutions to the loss with oneself and with the environment.
- Depression. At this moment one experiences the inevitable emotional pain that has caused the death.
- Acceptance. In the last phase of the mourning, one can accept the new situation, the pain begins to diminish and it is possible to look to the future and to continue forward.
If you are going through a loss, you should know that it is perfectly natural for you to feel sadness, confusion, anxiety, lack of motivation, fear, or even guilt. You often experience a multitude of physical symptoms, which vary from patient to patient and often include loss of energy, tightness in the chest and various muscle aches.
The most common behavioural symptoms are insomnia, eating disorders and isolation, which in turn can lead to excessive consumption of alcohol or pain-relieving drugs.
To go through mourning in the least traumatic way possible and prevent it from becoming a chronic state from which it is not possible to escape, it is advisable to receive professional help to properly manage all the emotions that appear in this situation.
The importance of having help in mourning
To be accompanied in the process of mourning by a professional specialized in this field will provide very important support to achieve emotional healing as soon as possible. Although it is not possible to assume a loss from one day to the next, the joint work between the therapist and the patient is the safest way to an adequate overcoming.
The goal of mourning therapy is for the patient to regain emotional balance through psychological help, which focuses on guiding the person suffering the loss to manage thoughts and emotions healthily.
One of the most important aspects of this therapy is that the patient can find the necessary accompaniment at such a delicate time and guidance that allows you to accept and understand mourning. Finally, the patient will be able to integrate what has happened positively and move forward.
Even if we have the support and company of family or friends, it is possible that they do not know how to deal with mourning most healthily and, therefore, psychological help is not only necessary when family support is not available.
Mourning help, while always recommended, it may be especially necessary in certain cases.
When should I see a specialist?
It is important that you see a specialist when the symptoms of mourning, such as sadness or anger, persist over time and affect your daily life or you do not feel able to know how to cope with death for yourself.
If the pain does not go away or worsens, and if you cannot overcome the loss, you must receive the appropriate psychological help. A specialist can provide you with the keys to properly manage your emotions and recover your balance.
On many occasions, the patient’s fundamental problem is that he or she tries to escape the pain by blocking it, something that ends up lengthening the process. In the same way, there is usually stagnation in some of the stages of mourning. It is then that the psychotherapist must find the moment in which the patient is ready to begin to work from that point.
When a loss is experienced, there are several factors that condition the intensity and complexity of the overcoming, such as the circumstances of the death (if it has been unexpected, if several people have been lost in a short space of time…), the age and characteristics of the deceased person or the relationship that was maintained with them. Also, the personal characteristics of each one can make more or less difficult to face such a hard situation, as well as the fact of not having any support in the environment. It is necessary to clarify that this painful process also appears before other types of losses such as a breakup of a couple, mourning for a pet or a layoff among others.
Since some losses can be especially traumatic (suicides, child deaths or accidents, among others), the therapist will adapt the intervention to each patient and provide the most appropriate resources.
How a grief professional can help
Receiving psychological help during mourning allows us to handle the emotions produced by loss with acceptance, knowing and assuming that it is inevitable to experience the process and with the confidence of knowing that we are being accompanied and oriented and that we will soon feel better.
In some cases, when the intensity of the symptoms is very high, initial pharmacological treatment may be recommended to provide urgent relief to the patient, although it is not always necessary and will depend on each case.
On the other hand, there are very effective strategies that therapists make available to the patient to alleviate the intensity of the negative emotions of the loss, such as symbolic communication with the deceased person (through writing, for example).
Another fundamental aspect in these cases is the help that the professional offers to the patient to face daily life, especially when the person who has died occupied a fundamental role in matters that affected the patient. In many cases, there is a mismatch in matters that directly affect daily life, such as family burdens, economic issues or other.
Faced with these situations, in addition to mourning the loss, it is necessary for the patient to adapt to a new reality, which may include important changes in his or her life. Learning to assume new responsibilities or roles in daily life and establishing effective action plans are tasks that require guidance and support.
The role of the therapist, then, is to help you use the tools at your disposal to rebuild your life and that mourning over loss does not become pathological mourning or an insurmountable vital obstacle.
The ultimate goal of mourning therapy is for the patient to integrate the loss healthily, being able to remember the deceased without experiencing pain and focusing on the positive experiences they shared. At the same time, it is perfectly natural for there to be specific dates or memories that can cause sadness at specific times, even long after the loss. It is a matter of the patient assuming naturally the emotions without getting stuck in them.
As we have mentioned, each mourning is different and the strategies that the professional provides to each person will depend on their particular circumstances, as well as the duration and complexity of the mourning will vary in each case. But overcoming mourning always results in emotional healing that allows you to look to the future with optimism. It is a personal growth in which resilience plays a fundamental role, assuming that changes are inevitable and that we are all prepared to face adversity, no matter how hard and painful it may be.
When a patient has overcome mourning, they set new goals in their life and can feel the hope of reaching new goals. And this is the main challenge of mourning, the ability to continue with our lives accepting the loss, something that will make us grow personally in all cases.
If you are experiencing the pain of the loss of a loved one, do not hesitate to accept help in mourning so that your healing process is effective and you can continue with your life as soon as possible, maintaining a positive and pleasant memory of the person who is no longer there and looking to the future with acceptance.
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