I recently lost my spouse. The mourning period has been quite overwhelming and I feel like I need help. How do I go about getting professional help to help me cope with the grief? I was thinking of seeing a psychologist, what should I look for when seeking counselling?
I empathise with you. Many like you go through such loss alone, with no idea what comes next or whether the pain will ever ease. Although death is natural and will happen to all, this knowledge doesn’t make it easier to bear. When death comes, it leaves behind a mixture of joyful and painful memories among a close family of the deceased.
And when death comes, it leaves behind many unanswered questions that may never get answered, leaving those left behind at times confused and unable to process the future ahead.
You cannot wish sorrow and loss away in hours or days, many times it takes years. Sometimes, besides the pain, there is also anger and regret, and if one is unable to deal with it, it may send one into depression.
It gets worse if there are issues such as debt associated with the deceased’s estate, and unsupportive in-laws determined to get the property the deceased left behind.
Your case reminds me of words spoken by King David of old, “Teach us to realise the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”
How do we gain wisdom in such moments so that we can move on and re-establish ourselves?
First, I must commend you on how you have managed things so far. Second, you have made a positive step in recovering by accepting that you need help.
Third, whether your faith is anchored in God or you have built a network of accountability partners, what you are feeling is beyond the friendship and comfort that normal friendships can provide. Thankfully, there are many professionals in the area of grief counselling that can walk with you.
The longevity of the grieving period can overrun the need to be reminded of the friendships, fun times, and generosity that once characterised your relationship.
If we are not careful, guilt and blame could end up holding us captive. Someone wrote, “Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion to death.” Another is that “When you are standing in the forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place.”
Freedom out of such grief will be slow but certain if you approach it well and commit yourself to move on.
It is important to know that grieving goes through several stages, therefore, allow yourself time to grieve your partner’s death. Your grief could also be influenced by the circumstances surrounding the death.
That said, be careful that your grieving does not take overly long, taking you away from people who love you. Learn to share it with others by talking freely about it, particularly the pain you feel. Remain in charge and reach out to those who truly care about you.
When seeking professional help, I suggest the following steps: First, seek a professional counsellor with experience in grief counselling. Not all counsellors are good in all areas. Among centres, you could visit include Amani Counseling Center.
Second, I propose that you also consider spiritual support. Being a Christian, I have come to accept that all of us could do with some good prayers from our pastors. Third, learn to celebrate the good memories you shared with your spouse.
Finally, build a good network of friends and join an existing grief counselling group and avoid the company of those who could use your grief to their advantage. With this in mind, join a group that is authentic and possibly recommended by a counsellor or your spiritual leaders.
A good number of churches have such groups or classes that could help you immensely.
Send your relationship question to [email protected]