Information you need to live a happy, worry-free retirement!
Originally published May 6, 2013, last updated May 6, 2013
Joy Anderson, a licensed professional counselor from Dakota Counseling Institute in Mitchell, S.D., facilitates a variety of grief group sessions and here, discusses why talking through grief is important for everyone.
Q. What is a grief therapy session or class like? What can a person expect?
I utilize the book, "Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart," along with the accompanying journal. We, as a group explore misconceptions of grief and normal grief reactions. Participants learn that they are not alone in their grief. As part of the therapy process, members also learn a great deal about themselves and experience healing in many areas of their lives.
Q. Why is it important for people to attend a grief therapy session?
One of the best ways to get through the pain of loss is to express it. People can express their feelings in a variety of ways, such as, poetry, journaling, art or talking of course. Talking to a friend, therapist or a group is really beneficial. The added benefit that you have with talking to a therapist is that they are trained to help you look at these ideas and thoughts you have and to examine them and to see if they match with reality. Maybe you are feeling guilty about the death of a loved one, which is so common, people tend to find some way to blame themselves no matter how little they had to do with the death. That’s a very natural thing that happens so if you are talking to a therapist you can find out that it is a normal reaction, know that you are OK and learn how to think about things in a different way.
Q. What are some reasons that you have heard - that people have avoided such a session?
There are a couple of different reasons. Many people are afraid of groups; they are afraid of being put on the spot or to say the wrong thing. They don’t’ want to talk in front of too many people. Another thing is that stigma that goes along with therapy. People think that if they have to get help that there is something wrong with them. When in reality, everyone needs help getting through difficult times, it’s normal to get extra help when you are having a hard time.
Q. What is some feedback you have heard after people have attended a session or series of sessions?
After people come once or twice to the group they find that they get to know the people and get to feel very comfortable with the group. After the first session it’s just not so scary anymore. They are able to find other people who are feeling the same way there are so they know they aren’t alone. Many times people finish the group and continue the relationships they’ve made with other attendees.
Q. How would baby boomers specifically benefit from these types of sessions?
What I do find in that group, it’s kind of an accumulation affect for them. They have parents who have died or who are in the nursing home preparing to die, some of them have had children who have died – recently or 20 years ago, siblings, too. So many people in their lives – every new death reminds people of other important deaths that they have encountered. This is especially true if they’ve never dealt with those deaths in the past. It keeps on piling and piling until they just think they can’t deal with it anymore– that’s where a grief group can be a good support for them.
Q. Anything else you'd like to add?
I would say that if you are hurting and you’ve lost someone dear to you, reach out. There are people around you who do want to help – so seek that help out. Most communities have grief groups, but also there are therapists who can be of benefit to you.
You can connect with Joy Anderson on LinkedIn.