Bereavement counseling is assistance and support to people with emotional and psychological stress after the death of a loved one. Bereavement counseling includes a broad range of transition services, including outreach, counseling, and referral services to family members.
Given what our culture teaches us about aging and dying, it is now wonder that we struggle when a loved one dies.
However, the process of grieving can teach us so much about life, and what is important.
Tom Zuba, an expert in counseling bereavement, an expert based on his own life experiences, teaches that we need to move with the grieving process, and that it may not follow a trajectory like that described by Kubler-Ross.
Grief can be a great teacher, and we can experience it in regards to many losses, the loss of a person, an object, a dream, a marriage, a pregnancy, a pet, for example.
I can remember my own youth, when I was perhaps three or four years old, shortly after the end of WWII, our family car burned in the barn, a family car which was one of the first consumer models produced after the end of the war, a car that was the means by which my father got to and from work.
My parents wept as it was towed away, and looking back, I think the loss of the vehicle meant a setback to the dreams my parents had created for themselves after the rationing and going without during the war. I am guessing now, but I am sure there was doubt about the outcome of the war, and fear about the kind of life that might come if the Axis powers won the war.
All that was implicit in the loss of the car, and brought grief for my parents.
So we can grieve not just the death of people, but the death of ideas and dreams.
It is important to attend to the grieving process. If we do not, the implications for trust in the future or future relationships can be profound.
In other words, if I do not move effectively with the process of grief, attending to my own inner world, becoming close in relationships is harder in the future.
Grief can be painful, and can involve some tears, definitely a slowing down of life, it can appear at moments when it is not exactly opportune for me to have it, and knowing the rhyme and rhythm of grief might involve working with a counselor familiar with bereavement, who will listen as the story is told.
I think counseling bereavement needs to have sacred space, and it certainly can involve symbolic rituals like a funeral for a loss suffered in childhood, for example, and working with a counselor who is knowledgeable in those rituals will be very important.
Journaling can be an important tool in counseling bereavement. Journaling, or writing the history of the relationship can be a great way to evoke the feelings of loss, and bring them to the surface in a manageable way, where the feelings are welcomed and left to flow in their own way, often times moving from sorrow to remembrances of happy times.
Meeting in a group with other folks going through a similar process can be very helpful to uncovering the gift of bereavement, and I think there is actually a gift that can come from bereavement, which is a deeper appreciation of the joy and magnificence of life.
We can bring great compassion to the grief of others, even in the midst of our own losses, and bless them.
That gift will ripple through the generations quietly, but powerfully.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.
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