by: Beth Loy, Grief Counselor
Hospice of the Panhandle’s Center for Grief Support
Grief is a natural, universal response to loss. While grief is generally associated with the death of a loved one, it can also be a response from other traumatic experiences, such as the loss of one’s favorite pet, or a loss related to any other circumstance, like the end of a relationship or the loss of a job.
For some grief can feel painful, chaotic and uncomfortable. For these reasons, individuals seek out support to assist them in processing their loss. Support for grief comes in many different forms. It can be as simple as leaning into our friends and family or by reaching out for professional assistance in the form of counseling.
Hospice of the Panhandle’s Center for Grief Support offers short-term grief counseling services to benefit our patients, their families, and the community-at-large as they are coping with the anticipation of or response to a (loss) death. At Hospice of the Panhandle, grief counseling is designed to help people work through the various stages and emotions of grief following a significant loss. Services are provided using the framework of psychologist William Worden to assist the bereaved in accepting the permeance of their loss, working through the pain of their emotions, adjusting to life without our person, and finally, finding ways to maintain a connection vs holding on to the pain of the person’s absence.
Because grief feels painful individuals experiencing it often look for immediate relief, a miracle cure. Grief counseling isn’t that. It won’t help the bereaved avoid the pain of their loss or to forget their loved one. However, it can help the bereaved understand, accept, and manage their emotions, allowing them to move forward with living their life.
Grief counseling assists individuals in managing anxiety and avoiding depression by providing the griever with constructive strategies designed to work through their emotions. Survivors often report feeling guilty about things they didn’t do when their loved one was alive. Counseling can assist the griever in distinguishing between feelings of regret and guilt. Regret is the feeling of I would have, could have, should have done something different if only I had known my loved one was going to die. Guilt on the other hand is when one intentionally does something knowing it was wrong.
Grief counseling helps individuals understand the process of grief (stages) and allows the griever to open a path for healing, by taping into their emotions, which can feel difficult and/or uncomfortable. One benefit of being with a grief counselor is they can assure the griever of the normalcy of their grief reactions, while monitoring for pitfalls.
Most importantly, grief counseling reminds us there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I often hear “I’m doing this wrong or I’m not sad enough or if I am not sad then I will forget my loved one” from clients. Grief counselors help to reinforce the understanding that who we are as individuals and what our relationship with the deceased was influence our grief response.
For more information on individual and group grief counseling please contact Hospice of the Panhandle at (304) 264-0406.
Beth Loy is a grief counselor who works in Hospice of the Panhandle’s Center for Grief Support. She has been a counselor at Hospice for the past three years.