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How Grief Counseling Can Help Older Adults After the Loss of a Loved One

Grief is one of the most complicated and painful emotions imaginable. Unfortunately, we all experience grief at some point in our lives. Although everyone goes through grief and loss, it can still feel isolating. We might feel like no one understands what we’re going through or like we’re not allowed to express our emotions.
 
Loss is particularly common with older adults. Your loved ones age alongside you, making them more vulnerable to serious health issues or accidents. Getting older does not make the grieving process any easier, though. Seniors need just as much support after a loss as younger adults.
 
Grief counseling for seniors can be an excellent resource if you or an aging loved one is struggling to heal from a loss. Therapy is a private, supportive environment where you can express yourself without fear of judgment.
 

Here Are Six Benefits of Grief Counseling for Aging Adults

 

1. Express Your Grief

 
Grief is not an emotion we can suppress or ignore. Although we may be able to stifle feelings of intense sadness or anger for a short period of time, we can’t heal until we truly express and process our grief. Some older adults have a strong social support network and are comfortable expressing themselves to family or friends. Others are much more reserved and don’t even want to experience their emotions privately.
 
If you feel like you don’t have an appropriate outlet to release your feelings of grief and loss, grief counseling may provide the supportive environment that you need. Allowing yourself to feel all of the pain of loss can be frightening, but your counselor is there to listen.
 

2. Understand Your Emotions

 
Grief is an intensely complicated process. The five stages of grief are not a clear or linear guide to bereavement. You might switch from feeling angry to feeling numb to feeling hopeless in the course of one day. This can be completely exhausting and unpredictable, but therapy can provide you with a stronger understanding of how you feel.
 
Not only does your counselor provide a space for you to safely express your emotions, but they also help you explore and understand what you’re feeling and why. Grief doesn’t always make sense, but we feel more in control when we can identify our emotions and understand our thought processes. Your counselor will ask you questions that encourage you to better understand your own grief. Although you can’t control how you feel, you can get more in-tune with your emotions and empathize with yourself more effectively.
 

3. Address Mental Health Symptoms

 
Grief is not a mental health disorder in and of itself. It’s a natural response to a painful life event. However, if we don’t have the opportunity to process our grief, we’re at an increased risk of depression, anxiety, addiction, and other serious mental health problems.
 
Grief counseling is an opportunity to work through bereavement so that the mourning process doesn’t take a long-term toll on your mental health. Your counselor will help you develop healthy coping skills for difficult days, which reduces your risk of socially isolating yourself or turning to substances to deal with the painful emotions. Therapists are mental health professionals, so they can recognize the warning signs of mental health disorders and offer you the support you need to maintain your mental and emotional well-being.
 

4. Adjust to a New Routine

 
Losing a loved one, especially a spouse, can dramatically change your daily routine. These disruptions can be difficult to deal with as you try to overcome the emotional aspects of your grief. Not only do you have to process this loss, but your entire daily routine may get turned upside-down.
 
Grief counseling can help you prepare for and adjust to the changes that may happen in your daily life after a loss. For example, you may have to take on your late spouse’s responsibilities around the house after they pass away. Your counselor will work with you to develop a new routine and establish a new sense of normalcy. This will help you maintain your physical health and your self-care skills even as you work through the grieving process.
 

5. Develop Your Identity

 
The role you play to your family and other loved ones is a major part of your identity. When you lose someone close to you, it can feel like you’ve lost your own sense of self. This is especially common for older adults who lose a spouse, but it can also affect people who lose sibling, best friends, or other close loved ones.
 
Grief counseling can be an opportunity for you to develop and embrace your identity. Your therapist will never encourage you to simply forget and move on from the loss, but they will help you explore and define what your life looks like now. Even when you lose someone close to you, it’s important that you maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in your life and that you remember all the value you offer to others in your life.
 

6. Receive Permission to Heal

 
Everyone mourns differently, so there’s no expected timeline for healing from your grief. Older adults sometimes struggle to move on from bereavement because they worry that they’re letting go of their loved one. Healing from grief doesn’t mean that you’ve forgotten about them, though. We’re never fully the same after a loss, but we find ways to move forward and keep going.
 
As you process your grief, counseling can give you the permission you may need to heal. Your counselor will validate your emotions and your experiences and help you find ways to move on while still honoring your loved one’s memory.
 

Grief Counseling for Older Adults

 
The loss of a close friend or family member is one of the most difficult life experiences. Grief Counseling can help you express your emotions, understand your thought processes, and gradually heal from the loss in your own time. Blue Moon Senior Counseling offers therapy for older adults who have recently suffered a loss. If you’re interested in counseling for seniors, please contact us today.

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