Feeling sad and lonely after the death of a loved one is a natural component of grief. And there is plenty of help available, from individual therapy to grief groups for people who have suffered a similar loss. But when do you know that feeling has shifted into something that you need to worry about? Learn more about navigating the grief process in Grief Is a Journey: Finding Your Path Through Loss.
The first reason to seek professional support is that you believe you might need or benefit from grief counseling or group support. Even if your grief is not complicated, such support can help in a number of ways. First, it can reassure you that your reactions to this new and difficult reality are what you might expect. It is often common, especially as you experience your first significant loss, to wonder if your reactions are unusual or problematic.
Counseling can reassure you that these reactions are natural and normal responses to a situation that is anything but normal or natural. Second, you can explore the ways you are coping—acknowledging your strengths and learning to compensate for any weaknesses in coping. Here you can better deal with difficult situations. Finally, counseling offers tangible support, as well as the reassurance that you can get through your loss.
You also should consider grief support when your own support system is limited or unavailable. As you age, you may find that you outlived many of the people you once counted upon to help you get through a crisis. In other cases, for example, if you are away at college, deployed with the military, or working far from your home, you may have a support system that is either dispersed or distant. Here support groups or counselors can fill in the gap.
If you’re not yet ready to talk to someone, try one of these books to help you as you move through your grief. They’re not a replacement for a real person, but they’ll help you start the process.