There are many ways to lose others—through breakups, separations, relocations, divorces, illnesses, and death—and all of them can make us feel that we have lost a part of ourselves or that life will never be the same again. If you find yourself struggling after losing someone or something and experiencing turmoil that you don’t think you can bear on your own, working with a psychotherapist to address your pain can be a helpful way to face the experience and move forward.
Loss, Grief, and Bereavement: The Psychotherapeutic Perspective
Loss can be a sudden, terrible shock or a slow, painful decline. Many of us struggle to cope with unresolved losses from either the past or the present. We can experience loss as we transition through various life stages, and as life unfolds in a way that differs from our expectations. Some of us experience loss as a result of separation, divorce, or death. Loss may also be present to you as an unmet goal or dreams that did not come true, such as unrealized hopes for conceiving or parenting a child. You may encounter grief as you age and experience the decline of your physical or mental abilities and health, and confront the changes in your roles or identity. The emotions associated with these losses, when left unaddressed and unprocessed, can evolve into anxiety and depression.
Your experience of loss may express itself in various ways:
- Depressed or anxious mood
- Low or lost motivation for living
- States of hopelessness, grief, anger, or anxiety
- Compromised concentration or memory
Addressing Loss in Psychotherapy: Management and Treatment Approaches
How a psychotherapist will help you deal with grief and loss
Your therapist’s approach to dealing with your loss will depend on your particular experience and your personal reaction to it. Some losses are very literal, such as the loss of a partner, family member, or friend; perhaps you’ve lost a job or home. The pain you’re experiencing then may be a very acute and obvious grief. Other losses are less concrete, such as a change in your identity, lost sense of meaning, or inability to feel hope. Your therapist will help you to bear and work through your internal disorientation, attuning to the nature of your loss and what it means to you.
Meeting with a Toronto Psychotherapy Group – listed therapist to address loss and grief will likely entail:
- Taking the time and space to speak about your loss and how it has affected you
- Exploring the impact of your loss on your emotions, thoughts, and perceptions
- Addressing your emotional responses such as denial, numbness, regret, or anger since the loss
- Examining how your personal history has shaped your experience of loss
- Locating internal strengths to help you cope, mourn, and move forward
- Helping you restore and maintain current relationships and supports
Other Resources for Coping with Loss, Grief, and Bereavement
The Canadian Mental Health Association offers information on understanding and dealing with loss and grief, including a description of the stages of grieving and recommendations on helping a friend in a grieving process and coping with one’s own grief.