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Grief Counseling

Treatment Overview

Grief counseling 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 may include:

Learning about grief and what to expect when grieving.

In grief counseling, people are taught about grief, including expected feelings and thoughts. They are also taught how to tell the difference between grieving and other conditions, such as depression, that can develop from grieving.

Expressing feelings.

People may be 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, a grieving person may be asked to speak with the lost person as though they were there.

Other techniques that may 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.

Developing a new identity.

During grief counseling, people are taught how to develop a new sense of self after a loss. For example:

  • Someone who loses a sibling may strengthen their self-perception as a volunteer.
  • Someone who loses a spouse of 45 years begins meeting with other people for social activities.

Credits

Current as of: June 16, 2022

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

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