The Loss of a Loved One: Why Speaking with a Counselor May Be More Helpful Than Speaking with Family
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences that we can encounter. Grief can leave us feeling lost, confused, sad, and angry. It’s a particularly grueling experience to navigate. The loss of a loved one is hard to accept. It’s an incredibly difficult adjustment that requires a lot of extra support. While it is important to express your feelings with friends and family members, seeking help from a therapist will give you many more benefits. Counseling relationships and familial relationships are very different and one should not replace the other, but it may be easier to speak with a counselor than to your family. The following are a few of the reasons why this is true.
Counselors are objective.
Because of the nature of a familial relationship or a friendship, neither is a neutral party. No matter how hard they may try, it will be impossible for them to refrain from maintaining a bias. Because of this, it may also be hard to be completely open and honest with them. For instance, if you’re really struggling with the loss, you may be in an especially dark place. Let’s say you’re having thoughts that include self-harm, or some other form of negative coping. You’d probably refrain from sharing that with your family for fear of judgment. But these thoughts, feelings, and urges are important to express. Hesitance in sharing your feelings will prevent you from healing, which is why a therapist is a great resource.
Counselors offer professional advice.
Counselors are trained professionals who handle situations similar to yours on a regular basis. While friends and family can offer comfort and solace, they are not licensed to offer professional guidance. For example, a family member may try to cheer you up by suggesting you grab drinks at a bar. While there’s nothing wrong with social or casual drinking, this is not an appropriate means of coping. Alcohol is a depressant and can also be an emotional suppressant, so a fun and distracting activity may actually have a negative impact on you. Your family member might have good intentions, but they aren’t necessarily the “right” suggestions for you.
Counselors know how to listen.
Many people, who are not licensed or trained, hear what you’re saying without actually listening. You might not be able to finish a full thought without interruption or receiving unwarranted advice. This can be damaging if you have a lot you want to express but are unable to do so. Counselors are also experts in handling and understanding emotions. A friend may not know what to do with them, but a therapist will allow you to dig deeper and really delve into your emotions. Friends and family members can be a good sounding board but cannot necessarily instruct you on how to move forward.
In counseling, the sole focus is on you.
When chatting with someone in your family, you may consciously or subconsciously feel guilty for centering the conversation on yourself. But that’s exactly what we allow time for in therapy. You have a dedicated amount of time each week to focus on yourself. You don’t have to worry about managing the other person’s feelings.
Counseling is confidential.
Hopefully, your friends and family members are trustworthy, but we cannot bank on them to protect your feelings with 100% confidentiality. A therapist’s office is a safe place, where you don’t have to worry about your thoughts and feelings being shared with anybody else. They are an additional asset to your support team and will maintain your confidentiality.
If you’re struggling with grief, contact me. Together we’ll work on ways to help you cope with your loss.