Grief and Loss

Bereavement describes the event of the loss and comes from the Old English Word berafian, meaning to rob or deprive or take away.

Loss is an inevitable part of our lives however, we each experience the journey in very unique ways. The goals in working through grief are not to avoid or bypass the emotional turmoil resulting from the loss but to work through it. Grief is the normal, appropriate emotional response to loss. It is unique to the individual experiencing it and there is no general timetable for completing it. In our society, the grief process is often seen as something to 'get over' quickly. Sometimes given the type of loss, it is seen as unnecessarily a sign of weakness.

Grief is, in fact, a sign of health, vibrancy and the capacity to love and to attach. Grieving is an important element in emotional and psychological development, dependent on how the grief process is approached. Ironically, slowing down to pay attention to our grief is the best way to "get through" it. Some people mistake grief as a feeling, whereas it is actually a complex process of recreating the self and is the natural response to ever loss. Although death is the most dramatic loss we confront, it's only one of many losses we face throughout a healthy lifetime; moving, changing jobs, ending relationships, launching children and the death of a pet, are but some of the others. In seeking professional help, you have the opportunity to heal, grow and develop resiliency in very unique ways...emotionally, psychologically and even spiritually.

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one, the following suggestions may help in coping with the loss:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel the pain of loss.

  2. Be patient with the process and don't pressure yourself with certain expectations.

  3. Express your feelings. Let yourself cry. Both are necessary for healing.

  4. Get support. Talk about your loss, your memories, and your experiences of the life and death of your loved one.

  5. Try to maintain your basic lifestyle and routines. Avoid making major life changes (moving, changing jobs, altering important relationships or beginning a new relationship) within the first year.

  6. Prepare for holidays and anniversaries by making plans with loved ones. Decide if you want to continue certain traditions or create new ones. Rituals can be a significant source of comfort.

Here are some suggestions for helping someone who is bereaved:

  1. Acknowledge the situation. For example, "I heard that your ______ died." Use the word died rather than a euphemism. That will show that you are more open to listening about how the person really feels.

  2. Be genuine in your communication and don't hide your feelings. For example, "I'm not sure what to say but I want you to know I care."

  3. Offer your support. Don't wait for them to call you but rather, reach out as often as you can.

  4. Ask how he/she feels, and don't assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day.


It is with deep appreciation that I am given the opportunity to help you walk through your loss.~
Sherry Warschaw

"During a difficult time in my life, I turned to Sherry. She has such a warm heart and truly comforting demeanor that I felt at ease and safe immediately when working with her. Sherry helped me gain more clarity about the direction I wanted for my relationship. Our work together has been invaluable."~ Adam W., Studio City

© 2019, Sherry Warschaw, LMFT

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