Treatment for Grief
If you have read through some of the sections regarding grief on this or other websites, you may already understand that grief is normal and does not necessarily require treatment. In fact, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) does not list grief or bereavement as a diagnosis that can be given to an individual. We can understand that there may be some complications of grief, or pre-existing mental health diagnoses, such as depression, that can be confusing to discern in the wake of a sudden, unexplained loss of a child.
It can be helpful to seek out the guidance and help from a trained professional, such as a therapist, clinical social worker, professional counselor, or psychologist. Professional support should be sought around the six-month mark if symptoms of complicated grief are present. The American Academy of Bereavement reports that intense grieving lasts 3 months to 1 year. Some people continue to experience profound grief for up to 2 years. Signs that counseling would be helpful include:
- Chronic Depression
- Desire to die and talk of suicide
- Frequent talk of reunion with the deceased child
- Inability to eat or excessive eating
- Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping
- Increased use of alcohol, recreational or prescription drugs
- Numbness, flatness or “no feeling at all”
- Isolation from family and friends
- Hopelessness and helplessness, or the inability to “see the light at the end of the tunnel”
Everyone who has experienced the death of a child has one, some, or all of these feelings or reactions at some point during the grief process. Determining when to seek professional help is a very personal issue. Many couples find that they are understood for the first time in the presence of an unbiased, trained counselor. Certainly when grief becomes overwhelming and no longer manageable, professional counseling should be sought. Help can be found in your community through mental health agencies, places of worship, and hospitals. With the assistance of a professional, your grief can become more manageable.