You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.
Aung San Suu Kyi

Here are some common questions and concerns that people may have about grief.  If yours is not on the list, just let me know and I'll answer it.

I have read that grief counseling can be more harmful than helpful. What can you say about that?
How do I know if I need professional help?
How long will I feel like this?

I have read that grief counseling can be more harmful than helpful. What can you say about that?
Based on a research study that appeared in 2000, there has been some discussion in the popular press and on television programs that “grief counseling” can be more harmful than beneficial. However, at the 2008 ADEC conference in Montreal, Canada, Joseph Currier and Robert Neimeyer presented the findings of their analysis of the existing research and their comprehensive meta-analysis of 61 published, controlled research studies on the efficacy of bereavement counseling. They found that for those bereaved individuals with a demonstrated need for counseling, the higher the level of bereavement-related distress, the greater benefit they will receive from bereavement therapy. For more details, CLICK HERE.

How do I know if I need professional help?
While everyone experiences grief differently there are some times when professional help is called for. If you or someone you know seems to be “stuck” or is experiencing any of the following, you should seriously consider getting professional help:

  • Strong feelings of guilt about what you did or did not do concerning the death
  • Intense hopelessness or loneliness
  • Extended agitation or depression
  • Uncontrollable anger or rage
  • Physical reactions such as chest pains or weight loss/gain that could threaten your overall health
  • Relentless inability to function in your daily life that affects your job or daily routines
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • The use of alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings
While some of these experiences may be temporary during normal mourning, their ongoing presence is a cause for concern and you deserve attention by someone experienced and trained to help you.

How long will I feel like this?
Time is not an important indicator of how well someone is adapting to the death of a loved one.  It's not how much time has passed; it's what you've done with the time.  Thus, there is no way to forecast how long someone in the depths of mourning will have strong grief reactions.  The mourning process is similar to being on a rollercoaster - there are up days and down days - but over time, as the mourner does his/her work, the ups and downs decrease in intensity and in length of time.  In other words, life gets closer to "normal."  However, the old "normal" never comes back; a new "normal" that now includes the bereavement experience takes its place.  In addition, the mourning itself never really ends.  Years later there can still be pangs of grief as we experience events that bring back the memory of our deceased loved one, especially for parents who have lost a child.