Why Grief Therapy Can Be Helpful Even Years After a Loss

Grief therapy refers to a specific kind of therapy intended to help you cope with a loss. While grief symptoms are not inherently problematic (they are an essential part of being human), they can certainly feel heavy and overwhelming. Sometimes, people don’t know how to manage their grief- or it feels larger than life- which can perpetuate a deeper level of suffering.

Grief therapy can help in the immediate aftermath of a loss. But grief symptoms don’t fall on a linear timeline, and traumatic grief sometimes emerges many months or years after experiencing a death. If you’re struggling right now, you may benefit from seeking professional support.

Understanding Reawakened Grief

It can be confusing, scary, and unnerving to notice grief emerging years after a loss. You may have already assumed you processed the experience. You might even feel frustrated by your distressing thoughts.

It’s important to note that grief can reemerge at any point in life. New traumatic events can certainly trigger old feelings associated with loss. But any significant life transition, whether it’s relocating, divorcing, having your children move away from the home, or even undergoing another loss can reawaken old grief.

Some people also experience inhibited grief after a traumatic loss. This type of grief entails blocking loss-related emotions. When this happens, people often try to push through their pain as a way of coping. Others may even praise them for being the ‘strong one’ in the family.

But you simply can’t avoid grief entirely. Even if you have suppressed or inhibited your feelings, they still exist within your mind and body.

How Bereavement Overload Can Trigger Old Grief

Bereavement overload refers to experiencing multiple, significant losses around the same time. When this happens, there isn’t enough time between the losses to truly process the magnitude of what happened.

Sometimes this experience can trigger old feelings, especially if you have a history of childhood traumatic grief. It can also activate a new form of grief trauma, which can make it challenging to stay present or build meaningful relationships with others.

If you’re experiencing bereavement overload, grief therapy can provide you with both relief and guidance. Everyday life may feel difficult to manage- having a professional support system can help you develop healthy coping strategies to manage your emotions. It also gives you a space to truly process your grief reactions.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Grief

People with histories of trauma may become stunted in their grieving processes. All trauma requires some sense of loss- whether that’s a loss of what you never had or a loss of something you deeply valued.

Trauma symptoms sometimes mask the underlying pain of older grief reactions. In fact, through the process of trauma therapy, many clients find that they can finally get in touch with their grief responses- sometimes for the first time in their lives.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can be transformative when coping with traumatic losses. While you can’t change what happened to you, you can change how you remember and respond to those difficult events.

Substance Use or Mental Health Recovery and Grief

It’s common for people to sometimes self-medicate old grief symptoms with escape mechanisms like alcohol, illicit substances, food, gambling, or codependent relationships.

Working through these patterns- and healing old pains- can actually bring new grief to the surface. You may even find yourself identifying traumatic grief you never knew you held. The intensity of these emotions can be difficult to manage. Some people find them so overwhelming that they experience regressive symptoms in their substance use or mental health disorder.

At this point, grief therapy often entails acknowledging both your emotional and physical symptoms. It may also include holding space for the losses you’ve endured.

Grief Therapy for Residual or Complicated Grief

It’s so important to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to cope with a loss. But the grieving process can be lonely and scary. While it’s helpful to confide in family members or seek support, you may need more professional help. It’s an act of courage to take care of yourself amid your own life challenges.

I am here to support you during this time. No matter how long ago the loss happened, you deserve a compassionate space for connection, safety, and healing.

Grief may change the course of your life, but it doesn’t need to steal your well-being. Regardless of where your grief has brought you, I would be honored to walk this journey with you.

Contact me today to learn more.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759

(512) 988-3363

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