Grieving the loss of a loved one is never easy, and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to mourn. There are many healthy and effective ways to cope with and work through grief, including:
- Accepting and acknowledging your feelings
- Leaning on friends or family members when you’re struggling
- Allowing yourself time to heal
- Taking care of yourself (eat well, exercise, get enough sleep)
- Getting involved in an activity or hobby
- Creating a lasting memorial to honor your loved one
But what happens if your grief starts to become too much to manage? It’s not uncommon. In fact, for around 15% of the population, feelings of grief will actually intensify rather than wane over time, resulting in a disruption to their lives and a negative impact on their wellbeing. In these instances, consulting with a grief counselor may be a wise decision.
If you recently lost someone you care about and are struggling to manage your emotions, here are seven signs you may want to seek the assistance of a professional.
While it’s fairly normal for the bereaved to experience some degree of anxiety following the death of a loved one, if you’re finding yourself in a constant state of anxiousness or your anxiety is so severe that it’s debilitating, it could be time to seek help.
Thinking about and remembering your loved one following their passing is a normal part of the grieving process. Feeling as though you have no control over those thoughts or engaging in negative self-talk, however, is not healthy. Grief counseling can help you take back control of your thoughts and inner voice.
Unhealthy or Damaging Coping Methods
There are many ways people attempt to cope with their pain, some of which can be unhealthy and others can be downright dangerous. Turning to alcohol or drugs, for example, can quickly escalate into a serious and potentially life-threatening problem. In fact, too much of anything could be an issue, including spending too much time online, in front of the TV, or anything else that’s an attempt to escape reality.
While some people become paralyzed by grief, finding it difficult to carry out even the most basic daily activities, others try to cope by throwing themselves into their work. While using work as a general distraction isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you find yourself spending all of your free time at the office, it could be to the detriment of your other surviving loved ones.
Fear of Relationships
When you lose someone you are close to, it can be such a painful experience that the thought of getting close to someone else becomes too much to bear. If you find yourself withdrawing from existing relationships or avoiding new ones, your fear of loss could be impacting your happiness.
Seeing things or hearing voices are both concerning signs that your grief has gotten out of hand. If you’re experiencing either of these things, you should seek the help of a qualified professional as soon as possible.
Thoughts of Self-Harm
The pain of losing a loved one can leave you feeling isolated and alone. For some, depression and thoughts of self-harm can easily follow. If you are struggling with the urge to hurt yourself or take your own life, seek help immediately by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. No matter how hopeless you may feel, suicide and self-harm are never the answer.
Grief is a natural part of life. If that grief becomes disruptive or prevents you from moving on, it’s time to seek the help of a grief counselor. There is no shame in reaching out and receiving professional help.