Counseling After Losing A Loved One

The Importance of Counseling 

While KikuPal offers practical services, we partner with organizations offering resources such as counseling and support options for those struggling with bereavement or impending loss of a loved one. One of our partners, The Austin Center for Grief and Loss, is a non-profit focused on grief and trauma with the mission to assist children and adults as they move from loss to life, transforming their grief through therapy, support, education, training and consultation. The ACGL strives to help anyone in need of hope and healing as they offer a sliding fee scale and a care assistance program for those who need it. We had the pleasure of meeting with and interviewing Becca Van Tassel, one of ACGL’s Licensed Clinical Social Worker’s specializing in grief counseling. Becca speaks with us about the grief process and shares advice on when to seek counseling services.

Honor Your Grief Journey

The healing process after losing someone you love can be long and will vary for everyone involved in the loss. The feelings you experience will also differ from others because everyone’s grief journey is unique.

There will be times where you feel a bit “crazy” for how you’re feeling and acting towards yourself and others. In our short Honor Your Grief Journey video with Becca, she explains that grief is a natural reaction to loss and that it is completely okay that you’re not okay. She goes on to say that she would encourage someone to honor their feelings fully and be incredibly gentle with themselves and others during the process. Honoring your grief takes some of the pressure and stress out of feeling like you should feel okay or that you should “leave your grief at home” while you’re at work, at the grocery store, or with your children, etc. Know that grief can be inconvenient, sometimes hitting you like a huge wave when you least expect it.

Grief is Consuming

Over 60% of energy is taken up in grieving. That’s right, 60%! This is because stress hormones are released in your body, causing dehydration, loss of sleep, appetite changes, etc. It is normal to feel completely consumed by your grief not just emotionally but psychically as well. Grief is often described as 5 stages, first recognized by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969. However, the study focused on the emotions and stages of the dying, not the grieving. Becca explains in our Kübler-Ross Model and the Stages of Grief video that grief can not be defined to just 5 stages, but rather as tasks to accomplish toward a place of healing. The 4 Tasks of Mourning by William Warden details four specific tasks: accepting the reality of loss, work through the pain of the grief, adjust to a life without the one who passed, and find an enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a new fulfilling life. The goal is to figure out what is lost, what is left, and what is possible. There is no timeline for grief, there is no manual on how to grieve, stages or tasks are also not achieved in chronological order. But just by knowing and honoring the bereavement experience, it can mean a gentler healing journey for yourself and others.

When to Seek Counseling

Sometimes grief can be too consuming meaning, emotions can be so painfully severe and long-lasting that a person has trouble recovering from the loss and resuming life. This is called complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder and about 2-3% of the world’s population suffers from it. Although the first few months after a loss are a whirlwind of emotions, Becca recommends waiting 1-2 months post loss to seek counseling. This is because a “fog” or a “blackout period” during the first few months after losing a loved one are very common as you many not remember much of that time. And the pain can be so profound that taking a little bit of time with that is encouraged. But Becca goes on to say that if your concentration or ability to work isn’t getting any better, then absolutely seek a counselor to help you with that. A very beneficial part of counseling is having a real container for your grief.

“Counseling can be that one hour a week you can spend completely and solely on the emotional experiences you’re having and there’s going to be someone there that can really hold those experiences with you.”

For more of our videos with Becca Van Tassel and other experts, please visit our YouTube Channel here.

Institutional and Instrumental Help

While counseling offers the institutionally support, KikuPal offers the much needed instrumental help. We are an online grief support platform bridging institutional and instrumental help. If you or someone you know has just suffered a significant loss or is caring for a loved one in the end stages of a terminal illness such as cancer, help with daily chores and tasks can mean more time spent healing. Whether that time is spent at counseling and/or with family and friends, KikuPal can help with the day-to-day practicalities. You can give and/or receive help by gifting points to someone you want to help or get help from family and friends by creating an account for yourself to be shared with the people who want to help you. Points can be redeemed for services which include meals, house cleaning, rides, lawn care, and more. Learn more about how it works by visiting our How It Works page or get started by giving or receiving help today.