Grief is normal. It hurts to lose someone dear to you, and it makes sense to acknowledge this pain. Everybody must go through a grieving process when losing a loved one. The grief journey is an indicator that the person who passed on was dearly loved. But what happens when the intensity of grief will not subside? What if you find yourself unable to cope, even though many months or years have passed since your loss?

Complicated Grief

If you find yourself unable to function in daily life long after the loss of your loved one, you may want to consider the possibility that you are experiencing complicated grief. While grief is a perfectly normal, healthy response to the event of loss, complicated grief is a psychological problem that, if left untreated, can severely impact your quality of life.

Receiving Help

If you think you may be struggling with complicated grief, treatment is available. Grief counseling can be a useful resource for dealing with complicated grief. A trained counselor can give you the tools that you need to start enjoying your life again. It is important to realize that counseling is not an attempt to make you forget about the life of your loved one or diminish their legacy. Rather, it is a way to help you accept the reality of their death and make tangible steps to get to a point where you can find joy in life.

Rational Thinking

Counseling can be especially beneficial if you find yourself suffering from extreme guilt, anxiety, or fear. Getting an outside perspective could help you to see when your thoughts become irrational. For instance, if you are someone who blames yourself for the death of a loved one, hearing a fresh perspective might allow you to see things differently. A liberating insight from a therapist could provide just the boost that you need to get back to finding joy and meaning in your life.

Accepting the Reality of Loss

Of course, it is unhelpful and unrealistic to believe that we will ever fully “move on” or “recover” from a loss. Even if this state of mind could be achieved, it wouldn’t be desirable. You will always remember the person that you loved, and the knowledge of their loss will always be painful. This knowledge falls under the category of grief that is considered normal. The pain of loss is part of what it means to love.  But if your thoughts of your loved one border on obsession, and if long after your loved one has passed, you find yourself ignoring everything except for these thoughts, then you may be struggling to accept the reality of the loss. Grief therapy can help you get to acceptance, and can provide you with advice on how to carry this experience with you as you continue to navigate your life journey.

How Do I Know if Counseling is Right for Me?

Studies suggest that people who are struggling with complicated grief respond better to therapy than those who struggle with normal grief. For those who are still on their grief journey, time is the most important factor in the healing process.  So how can you be sure that therapy will be useful for you? Since there is no set time frame for working through the grieving process, at what point can you reasonably estimate that your grief has become complicated?

There’s no definitive answer to these questions. You have no way of knowing with absolute certainty if counseling or the mere passage of time will be the best approach for your mental health. But if you feel that a significant amount of time has passed and that you are still unable to cope with daily life, it couldn’t hurt to give counseling a try. At the very least, you’ll have a trained professional to talk to, an experienced person who will listen as you get some things off your chest. This simple step could end up making a great difference.