When you’re overwhelmed by grief, the last thing you want to do is sift through all the results on a “grief therapist near me” search. The results can all seem to blend together and you can end up with someone who doesn’t necessarily honor your faith.
Why should I find a Christian grief therapist?
It’s normal for grief to shake up your faith. Any good therapist will respect and honor your Christian faith even if they don’t share your beliefs. But they aren’t necessarily equipped to help you wrestle with those questions of faith. In contrast, a Christian therapist has additional training in theology and is often connected with local pastors to help you through these deeper questions.
How do I know if I need therapy for my grief?
Grief sucks. No way around that part. It’s also true that not everyone will need or want a therapist as part of their support team. Here are some reasons why people come in for grief therapy:
- Family is not local, not supportive, or otherwise not available to be there for you.
- You had complicated feelings about your grief and you don’t want to share those parts of your experience with your usual support system.
- Grief is getting in the way of your ability to do the things you need to do. You want to learn how to navigate your grief, but you still need to pay the bills which means you need to learn strategies to manage all the feelings while you’re working.
- You’re grieving a non-death loss, and your support system doesn’t validate your grief as real.
- Your family and friends are helpful, but you want an outside person to talk through this with you.
In short, it comes down to this: do you want a therapist as an additional point of support as you go through your grieving process? Do you want to have someone you meet with regularly who can walk with you as you go through some really tough stuff? And if you didn’t have a therapist, who else would you lean on during this time? Do you have people you can talk to about anything?
What about Prolonged Grief Disorder?
This has been a big debate recently as the American Psychological Association added Prolonged Grief Disorder to the most recent version of the DSM. They define this new diagnosis as follows:
- Grief from a death that was at least 12 months ago
- Intense longing for the deceased
- Thoughts preoccupied by the topic of death or the circumstances of their death
- Any of the following symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, that disrupt your ability to function in your daily life:
- Disruption in your identity or thoughts that part of you has died too
- Disbelief about the death
- Avoidance of reminders about the death
- Intense emotional pain
- Difficulty moving on
- Emotional numbness, meaninglessness, or loneliness
There’s a lot of debate about Prolonged Grief Disorder. Mostly because many grieving people feel like the 12 month timeline is normal and not “prolonged”. The anniversary of a loss is often one of the most difficult times, and that can continue for years. It also focuses solely on grievers who have lost a loved one to death, and that’s only one of the many kinds of grief you can experience.
But there are good reasons to add Prolonged Grief Disorder to the DSM. For one, this allows you as a griever to have a diagnosis that might allow you to get paid time off or FMLA approval for an extended leave if your grief is so intense you can’t work right now.
Ready for Christian grief counseling online?
If you’re a California resident, I can help you walk through your grief journey. You don’t have to do this alone. If you’re ready to work through grieving your loss, contact me to schedule a free 15 minute consultation. Learn more about me here.