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Navigating Grief & Loss

Grief is a universal experience, yet it's intensely personal. Everyone's journey through grief is different, and there's no right or wrong way to grieve. 

RISE is here to help you navigate life after a significant loss, whether it be death of a loved one or pet, pregnancy loss, separation or divorce, job loss, or any other event that leaves you experiencing grief.

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Man and woman embrace in their shared grief, supporting each other

What are Grief & Loss?

Grief is the acute pain and sadness for someone who has experienced the loss of someone or something significant. It encompasses a wide range of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that individuals may experience as they come to terms with the reality of the loss. This process is deeply personal and can affect various aspects of an individual's mental well-being, including their mood, cognition, and interpersonal relationships.

At RISE, we understand the complexities of grief and are here to offer compassionate support as you navigate this journey. Our comprehensive approach integrates therapeutic techniques tailored to your unique needs, guiding you towards healing and resilience.

Common Causes of Grief

Grief can stem from various life experiences, each carrying its own weight of sorrow and adjustment. Common causes include:

Death or loss of a loved one such as a family member, friend, or pet can trigger profound grief.

End of a relationship due to breakup, divorce, estrangement, or something else can evoke grief.

Major life changes can create feelings of loss, for example job loss, relocation, financial problems, or retirement.

Health decline, like coping with chronic illness, disability, or the decline of one's health or that of a loved one can bring about grief. You can grieve the life you had before illness, as well as your own loss of life when preparing for death.

Miscarriage or infertility, including the inability to conceive, are emotionally challenging situations and cause strong grief.

Lastly, traumatic events can create feelings of loss, for example relocation, financial problems, or retirement.

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Symptoms of Grief

Grief can manifest emotionally, physically, and behaviorally. While people experience grief in different timelines, similar symptoms can be observed for many.

There is no right or wrong way to experience grief. Some individuals may grieve quickly, while others could experience prolonged grief, also known as complicated grief, which can last months or years.

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  • Fatigue and/or insomnia

  • Appetite changes, which could lead to weight loss or weight gain

  • Physical aches and pains

  • Nausea and/or upset stomach

  • Tightness in throat or chest

  • Weakened immune system that is susceptible to illness

A confusing aspect of grief can be the conflicting emotions you feel. For example, you might be grieving the loss of a loved one, but also relieved that they are no longer in pain. Another situation could be missing your spouse or partner after a relationship ends but also feeling excitement about starting fresh. 

Many family members end up caretakers for loved ones with illness or experiencing health decline. This type of caring work, preparing for a loved one's loss, is extremely difficult and fraught with emotional turbulence. A caretaker may feel relieved once their patient's suffering has ended, which can create feelings of guilt. Please know that your feelings are valid, and part of the process of moving through grief.

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Types of Grief

Normal grief - the natural response to loss, characterized by a range of emotions including sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion.

Complicated grief - when the grieving process becomes prolonged or intense, interfering with daily functioning and lasting for an extended period.

Anticipatory grief - preparing for the impending loss of a loved one, often experienced by individuals facing terminal illness or aging relatives.

Disenfranchised grief - grief that is not openly acknowledged or socially recognized, such as mourning the loss of a pet or grieving a non-traditional relationship.

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Stages of Grief

The concept of "stages of grief" was popularized by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the 1960s. However, it's important to note that grief is a highly individualized experience, and not everyone will go through these stages in a linear fashion, nor will everyone experience all of these stages. The stages proposed by Kübler-Ross are:

Denial

Initially, some may deny the reality of the loss as a way of protecting themselves from experiencing emotions.

Anger

As the reality of the loss is realized, some may direct anger towards themselves, others, or the person they perceive as responsible for the loss.

Bargaining

One may attempt to negotiate with a higher power or make deals in an attempt to delay or reverse the loss. "If you spare my loved one, I will do XYZ."

Depression

The full impact of the loss becomes apparent and causes feelings of profound sadness, despair, helplessness, and deep emotional pain.

Acceptance

Coming to terms with the loss, having integrated it into one's life and found a way to move forward while honoring the memory of the loss.

Treatment for Grief

At RISE, we offer personalized treatment approaches to support individuals through the grieving process. Common treatments include:

Therapy: individual counseling provides a safe space to explore emotions, gain coping strategies, and work through unresolved feelings related to the loss.

Support groups: connecting with others who have experienced similar losses can offer validation, empathy, and a sense of belonging. RISE currently holds a grief support group in Wyoming, Iowa - contact us to learn more.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques: practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help manage stress and promote emotional well-being.

Grief education: understanding the grieving process and learning about common reactions to loss can normalize experiences and reduce feelings of isolation.

Self-care: prioritizing activities such as exercise, creative expression, spending time in nature, and maintaining healthy routines can support overall well-being while grieving.

Exercise and spending time in nature can support overall well-being while grieving

Remember, healing is possible, and you deserve support every step of the way.

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Grief is a complex and individual journey, but you don't have to navigate it alone. Contact us today to learn more about our grief counseling services.

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