Mental Health Monday: Grief, Pain, & Loss

Your grief path is yours alone, and no one else can walk it, and no one else can understand it.

Terri Irwin

On Monday May 20th, 2019 I had the pleasure of being able to visit ReBirth Church, 2300 Fairmount Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23223 to present on “Grief, Pain, and Loss” with Alva Kershaw, LCSW from Touchstone Counseling Services to a great group of people. Throughout the evening we took on the challenge of answering the questions:

-What are the impacts of grief and pain on our lives?
-What is the experience of grief and pain like?
-What are some tools for healing from grief and pain?

As part of the evening we discussed the Kubler-Ross Model of Grief with some modifications beyond the 5 original stages (Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance) that have been found helpful when assisting individuals ride the waves of grief. More importantly we talked in depth and without a lot of psychological terminology about individual’s experiences with Grief, Pain, and Loss.

Whether they were struggling with a recent loss of a family member, pet, or dealing with the pain of regret participants were able to start gaining a better of understanding of how we can deny there is a problem, become angry at others or situations, or struggle with the ability to express our emotions.

As part of the evening I challenged everyone in the room to consider something that they have lost whether it was a person, place, or thing. The group was then challenged to place these items in a couple of rope circles. Once placed inside the circles I read a loud their loses including “my job”, “my pet”, “my parent”, and more. Once read I asked for some volunteers to enter the center circle and stand next to each other.

When asked what they were experiencing in the center circle the volunteers highlighted that they felt :”close”, “trapped”, and “feeling as if it was hard to breathe”. The volunteers were then asked to step into the outer circle and express their experience. They highlighted that they felt more “relieved”, “able to breathe”, and more able to function. When we are experiencing grief, pain, loss, and regret utilizing our supports such as family, friends, and providers (counselors, psychiatrists, etc.) allows us to transition from experiencing those hard to swallow feelings such as emptiness, loss of interest in activities,and avoidance of those things we had done with loved ones we’ve lost to keeping an attitude of gratitude, lower stress levels, and the ability to enjoy life more fully.

Through therapy with a counselor it is possible to identify your stage of grief that you are experiencing, process your experience and emotions, develop the appropriate coping skills to handle your grief experiences, and most importantly be able to maintain an appropriate balance of yours throughout the process.

Overall, there was good conversation, engagement in activities, and some breakthroughs made in understanding and experiencing grief while moving towards healing for our participants. Make sure you check out the next Mental Health Monday by going to ReBirth Church‘s Facebook page!

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, grief, anger, or loss reach out to a counselor to ensure you are processing healthily. Openings are currently available at Healing Circle Counseling and Services, LLC with Jonathan Ugalde, MSEd, LPC, NCC. To schedule a session call 804-476-8210.

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