There are several important points influencing an answer to this question.
- First, each person is very complex. People have different personalities, different strengths/limitations, they come from vastly different backgrounds, and they differ on the range of resources they are able to draw on in times of crisis. Therefore there is no ‘one path suits all’ in coping with a serious personal loss.
- Secondly, because each person must create their own individual (and complex) pathway, the loss of someone or something that is personally very significant requires time before an acceptable level of comfort is reached – commonly years.
- Thirdly, our experience, backed by research, suggests that when a serious loss occurs, an inner drive is automatically activated to try to understand the loss. Therefore it seems that we cannot avoid directly confronting a loss at some stage – if we are to comfortably integrate the impact of the loss into our future life and relationships –
- BUT the up-side of this inner pressure to confront and deal with a loss is that it is OK to do it slowly, or ‘work’ in short bursts, or have rests. Because grieving a major loss is hard tiring distressing ‘work’, so delays, ‘putting off’, or having rests, are not only common and normal, but probably sensible. In fact most people do ‘work’ in bursts and take needed rests along their journey, and if the loss was particularly traumatic, delays and ‘switch offs’ are accentuated.
With these points in mind, back to the specific question about seeing a therapist to assist after a serious loss.
The first point to make is that the majority of people confronting this situation find their basic
support needs are met by ‘talking out’ their pain, feelings and related issues with trusted friends or family members – although many grieving people following this “normal” or “natural’ or “common” bereavement support pathway with friends and family, often find the base care and love they receive is not sufficient, and feel a need for additional more ‘knowledgeable’ support.
This is when the help of experienced professionals, such as a counsellors or therapists may be invaluable. This especially occurs when friends and relatives are grieving the same loss, or are struggling because they lack knowledge about grief and grieving. Trained counsellors can offer more objective assistance.
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