Grief Counseling & Therapy
The grieving process is challenging. Our grief counseling helps clients work through difficult emotions by following guiding each persons unique process.
How Should One Grieve? What Gets Us Back to Living in The Present?
Grief takes many forms and comes from many sources. For example, death is thought of as the most common source of grief, but we experience grief as the result of many different situations. When the coronavirus first hit in March of 2020 people’s lifestyles had to dramatically change. Many people found themselves unknowingly going through a grieving process for their changed lives and their plans for the future. Other national tragedies can cause us to grieve as well.
We can also experience grief after more personal tragedies, such as when a relationship ends (divorce), after a job loss or after a chronic disease diagnosis.
Grief is a very complicated and very human process. It’s a response that is hard-wired into our brains and body. In fact, primates that are closely related to humans universally experience grief and mourning. Just as a primate couldn’t stop grieving, you can’t just completely stop grieving, but you can talk with someone to better accompany your grieving process.
“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
– Fred Rogers
Here in the United States, death can be a very mysterious and dreaded affair. Loved ones are often whisked away soon after death and hidden until there is a wake. Americans also don’t have a very good vocabulary around death, and often we live as if death won’t happen, and certainly not to us. The death of a loved one shatters that illusion and brings us face to face with our own humanity. Often because we don’t know how to talk about death we also don’t know how to deal with it when the time comes.
Other cultures tend to be more comfortable talking about death. In Japan talking about death is much more involved. It’s a tradition for people who knew the deceased to offer condolences every year on the anniversary of the death to their surviving loved ones. This can be continued until everyone who knew the deceased had also passed away.
We all grieve in different ways and oftentimes we don’t know how we should feel or act when a close loved one dies. It can bring out new feelings of existential dread or hopelessness. The textbook definition of when grieving becomes problematic is when it continues to dictate your life over 3 months after the death. However, after 3 months if someone tells you “you should be over this by now,” don’t listen. Everyone grieves at a different pace.
Many find themselves bottling up their grief to extremes, finding themselves paralyzed in their daily lives, or turning to poor coping mechanisms such as drugs or alcohol. Some people even consider themselves depressed, which is very possible as grief can certainly turn into a deep depression if it isn’t coped with well.
Some take more or less time to grieve and experience differing depths of grief, but no matter the case, grief counseling can help you better understand and cope with your grief on your terms.
1-on-1 Therapies for:
OUR THERAPY APPROACHES
Our Clinicians also help with:
- Personal Growth
- Navigating Life Transitions (relocation, career changes, stage of life growth)
- Existential Concerns
- Managing Anger or Panic
- Gaining control over Substance use & Addiction
Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question:
Some Grieving Responses That Our Grief Counseling Helps With:
- Frequent (or too little) crying
- Mood Swings
- Numbness or shock
- Loneliness and isolating behaviors
- Increased drug or alcohol use
- Loss of interest in activities you once used to enjoy (Not leaving the house).
Coping with Grief is Challenging, Grief Counseling May Help
Our focus at LifeStance is to help you better process your emotions during grief. This means working looking inward to think about and discuss what you are feeling (for many this is their first time really opening up about it after the event). For example, if a client is experiencing many negative emotions that seem to control their lives, we can better make space for positive memories of the reason for which we are grieving. Many people also discover with the shock of grief that it is difficult to express or understand their emotions. Such clients benefit from the guidance of an emotionally focused counselor.
4 Steps to a successful grieving process
1. Identifying and understanding the intense emotions related to the loss.
2. Finding the words and expressions that can communicate what that loss means to you.
3. Having a safe environment where you can share these thoughts without judgement.
4. Knowing that your feelings and words have been understood by someone who cares.
It’s important to understand in this process that you have permission to grieve. That you can grieve in your own way. That you have resources that can help (including a grieving counselor). Your feelings are important and will be heard. After all, nobody should have to grieve alone.
Our Approach to Grief Therapy
Our approach to grief therapy is client centered. We don’t tell you how to grieve instead we try to understand where you are at emotionally and help you to reach the goals that you set. We can provide direction or resources when needed, but grieving needs to be done on your terms.
One way that you can understand how we approach grief is by understanding the 5 stages of grief. Each of these stages usually plays a role in anyone’s grieving process, and they don’t necessarily happen in order. It’s important to note that for you to feel better sometimes you have to go resolve the stages that are most difficult first. Swings of emotion are common throughout this process and can be best visualized with this graph.
Stage 1: Shock and Denial – After the swings of the initial event that are included in “shock”, we typically experience some denial or questioning of the event. Perhaps you question the diagnosis or feel that there was a miscommunication in the message. Or maybe you think that this issue (e.g. separation or divorce) will just blow over, and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Stage 2: Anger – Once one accepts that the event actually happened, anger is common. This can be anger at yourself, your religion or the general world around you. It’s common for you to become angry at the people around you “for not doing enough.” At this stage you may be asking “Why did this happen to them, and why me?”
Stage 3: Bargaining – Many times people begin to bargain with themselves or their god ro lessen the pain of the grief. It’s common for those with a terminal illness to negotiate for more time during prayer in exchange for more devotion.
Stage 4: Depression – Next instead of bargaining with the outside world, the griever may reject it completely. Perhaps by isolating themselves from friends and family. Some may be diagnosed with clinical depression at this stage.
Stage 5: Acceptance – This is the resolution of the grieving process. At this point a griever will accept the event, whether that be the hard truth of mortality, or accepting personal lessons from the end of a relationship. After acceptance, one can typically look back on the event with (relatively) stable emotions.
Stage 6: Growth – We understand that acceptance may not be enough. We have to accept the event, make meaning from it and continue living with that experience as best we can. In turn, we can grow from the experience. In many ways grieving is also loving, and connecting with the deceased to build meaning in your life is an important step for many.
In fact, at LifeStance we often use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as a framework for grief. This therapy method has been shown to be very effective for helping clients cope with difficult events. The main idea of the therapy is that we don’t have to let certain emotions control us, but instead we can understand that they are there as a part of us and continue to live our lives as normal.
An example of the 5 stages of grief being applied to our current lives may be Covid-19.
“There’s denial, which we saw a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed. Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies. We find control in acceptance. I can wash my hands. I can keep a safe distance. I can learn how to work virtually.”
Break-free and begin your journey to
There is a future life where trauma does not control your day. Imagine yourself feeling calm, confident and ready to handle new situations with ease. The tools to living the life you have always envisioned are here, at your fingertips.
LifeStance Health can help.
Reach out directly to our Client Care Coordinator for questions, matching, and scheduling:
Our services are also available online through Zoom. Telehealth/Online counseling gives you the opportunity to explore your challenges in life without complicating your daily schedule.
First Session Within 72 Hours of Calling
We book you an appointment within 24 hours of contacting us (usually less) and make sure your first appointment is soon after.
Call our office to schedule your appointment, or for any changes regarding scheduling.
Schedule by phone:
LifeStance Washington Locations
Tacoma Meadow Park
12900 NE 180th St, Suite 160
Bothell, WA 98011
Plaza 600 Building
600 Stewart St, Suite 1228
Seattle WA 98101
–Coming Fall 2021–
221 N Wall St.
Spokane WA 99201
5909 Orchard Street West
Tacoma, WA 98467
2420 S. Union Ave, Suite 100
Tacoma, WA 98405
5201 Olympic Drive, Suite 210
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
21727 76th Ave West, Suite C
Edmonds, WA 98026