Talking about Your Grief Helps
When a loved one passes, we don’t pay attention to how we are grieving — all we know is the loss is painful. Genene Nisbet, bereavement service specialist at Owen Funeral Homes, says the bereaved need to have an outlet for processing their emotions.
Owen provides grief counseling to people who use their funeral services, with the intent of helping them resume a normal life. “We added the grief counseling program as part of our aftercare services, because we felt that folks needed a place to come and talk about their loss. They also needed information and education,” she says. Educating people about natural grief reactions is an important part of their program.
Genene says it is common for people to think their grieving is abnormal. “They think something is wrong with them, so we educate them about things they will go through as they work through their grief and their loss. It is important because it gives them the space to feel the things that they need to feel. If you think that what you are feeling is abnormal, you will shut it down or you minimize it,” she says.
The first step of the counseling session begins with the client telling their story about the circumstances of their loved one’s death. Understanding the context of the situation allows Genene to address lingering problems and help the bereaved settle any unresolved issues. “If there has been a chronic illness, you want to hear that whole progression of what that was like or if it was an accidental overdose. These things are all part of the grief process and what led to it is sometimes what they grieve following the loss — unfinished business and conflictual relationships,” she says.
Experiencing guilt and anger is common, but often people don’t understand how to deal with these emotions. They may feel anger toward God, the medical community, or have survivor’s guilt. Being in an environment where they can talk openly about the situation, she says, eases the emotional burden they are carrying. “Counseling gives them a place for the unspeakable. It is a sacred ground for people,” she says.