Grief Counseling

Grief Counseling

Topic Overview

Grief counseling is short term and focuses on working through the grieving process related to a major loss. Grief counseling is also called bereavement counseling. The term "bereavement" usually is used only when referring to the loss of a person through death.

Grief counseling typically has four components:

  • Learning about grief and what to expect when grieving. In grief counseling, people are taught the normal grieving process, including expected feelings and thoughts. They are also taught how to tell the difference between normal grieving and other conditions, such as depression, that can develop from grieving.
  • Expressing feelings. People are encouraged in grief counseling to express all their feelings, whatever they may be. Sometimes people who are having trouble expressing their feelings are encouraged to talk about their loss or to use other means of expressing themselves. For example, they may be asked to speak with the lost person as though he or she were there. Other techniques that help people express their feelings include writing letters about their loss or writing to the lost person, looking at photos and remembering the lost loved one or object, or visiting the grave of a loved one who has died.
  • Building new relationships. This component of grief counseling helps people develop a new relationship with the lost person or object. Memories usually linger for years and can sometimes be troubling, so emphasis is placed on learning how to incorporate memories of the past into the present.
  • Developing a new identity. During grief counseling, people are taught how to develop a new sense of self after a loss. For example:
    • A man who loses his only sibling strengthens his or her self-perception as a grandfather and a volunteer instead of as a brother.
    • A widow who has lost her husband of 45 years begins meeting with other women in her building for tea every morning.

Credits

Current as ofApril 18, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Jean S. Kutner, MD, MSPH - Geriatric Medicine, Palliative Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.