Grief and Bereavement

The loss of a loved one is deeply painful and difficult to navigate. Grieving the death of someone close to us, such as a parent, partner, friend, or pet, is a normal human response. However, while grief is normal, it is not easy. Coping with loss often requires supportive relationships and professional help to work through intense emotions.

It’s important to process the complex emotions that come with grief so that we can eventually reach a place of acceptance and cherish the memories of the person we lost. While talking with empathetic family and friends can be helpful, some individuals may find that their grief is interfering with their daily lives. In these cases, psychotherapy can provide a safe space to explore the personal meaning of loss and find healthy ways of coping. By understanding the nature of attachments and reflecting on the relationship, grief can gradually become integrated as a part of life that honours and celebrates the loved one that was lost. With time and support, the pain may lessen, though we never forget those who meant so much to us.

Although grief is often associated with the loss of a loved one, it can also be a response to other types of losses. Essentially, grief is a reaction to the absence of something or someone. For example, we can experience grief when we go through changes as we age or when our relationships evolve. Moving to a new place, leaving behind a familiar environment, and dealing with immigration-related stress can also cause us to grieve.

Some common areas of loss that can trigger grief include:

Closeup of of four lit pillar candles against a blurry background, illustrating that psychotherapy can help individuals experiencing grief cope with their loss.

While everyone experiences grief differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are some signs that may indicate that a person could benefit from seeking psychotherapy to help them cope with their grief:

overhead view of two white flowers on a dark background illustrating that if grief is prolonged and makes it difficult to carry out daily activities, its time to seek help.
  • Difficulty carrying out daily activities: If the person is finding it hard to complete routine tasks such as eating or sleeping, or they are struggling to maintain relationships due to their grief, it may be time to seek professional help.
  • Intense and prolonged feelings of sadness, guilt, or anger: While it’s normal to experience a range of emotions during the grieving process, if these feelings persist for an extended period of time and are interfering with daily life, psychotherapy may be beneficial.
  • Avoidance of reminders of the person who has passed away: If the person is actively avoiding people, places, or things that remind them of the person they have lost, it may be a sign that they are struggling to process their grief and could benefit from therapy.
  • Difficulty accepting the reality of the loss: If the person is having trouble accepting that their loved one is gone and is experiencing persistent feelings of denial, therapy can help them work through these feelings.
  • Physical symptoms: Grief can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or fatigue. If these symptoms persist, it may be a sign that the person is struggling to cope and should consider seeking professional help.
Image of two women sitting on a couch in a deep conversation, illustrating that there is no shame in seeking support to help process the complex emotions of grief.

It’s important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, and there is no shame in seeking support to help process the complex emotions of grief.