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Grief Therapy 

Your grief is welcome here.

Grief is an inevitable, yet incredibly painful, part of being human. Grief can come in many forms, but we are most familiar with grief after someone we love dies. And often the closer the relationship, the more intense the pain.

My name is Paula, and grief was my initiation into this work. I specialize in grief counseling using art therapy

Every type of grief has the potential to be life disrupting, but grief experienced after suicide, overdose, or other traumatic loss can be particularly challenging. For suicide loss, please visit this page.

Taking the step to find a therapist can be a challenging task when you're already carrying so much. Please take good care of yourself and reach out if you need further support.

Please note, the following sections may be difficult to read. If you are recently bereaved or are experiencing intense emotions related to your grief, you may want to skip below (to the image with leaves in the rain with text "So now what?").

person facing away from the camera looking out into the woods

The Experience of Grief

When someone you love dies, your life shifts drastically. 

 

You may feel:

  • Shock

  • Confusion

  • Questioning and doubt

  • Crushing pain and heartbreak

  • Loneliness

  • Despair

  • Anxiety

  • Overwhelm

 

This is all so difficult to manage. You're looking for a guide. Someone who gets it. Someone who can handle what you've got going on. You can get to know me here.

You've been thrust into a dark wilderness of swirling emotions after your loved one's death. Let's bring a few of these experiences to light.

Doubt and Fear

 

When you learn someone you love has died, the initial response is often shock. You wonder if this is even real. And once you realize it is real—too real—you frantically search for things you could do to change this reality. This all feels like a nightmare. You wish you could just wake up.

 

You are faced with a vast, terrifying unknown. What will life be like now? How will you manage? How can you go on? What if this happens again? What if you feel this way forever? There is a future you can't bear to think about. You feel paralyzed and lost.

 

Anger

 

Losing someone you love can bring up a great deal of anger. You see this event as incredibly unjust. It just doesn't make any sense. It is not fair

 

You feel angry toward others for their responses to your loss—or lack thereof. You feel anger toward those you love, even when they are trying to help. You feel even more anger toward all the injustices you see going on in the world. You feel angry at god or the universe.

 

Perhaps there's no object worthy of your anger. You're able to understand everyone else's perspective. There's no one to be mad at. Instead, you just feel white hot rage with nowhere to go.

 

You may feel anger toward yourself. Thinking back to the last things you said. Remembering the things you thought to do, but didn't. You feel regret.

 

Maybe anger isn't even an option for you. You stop yourself. You think, "If I go there, I'll never come back."

 

Anger alone is a lot to hold. But then pile on all your thoughts and feelings about your anger. You think, "I shouldn't feel this way." "Anger is toxic." "Anger makes me a bad person." "I'm scared of my anger and what I may do." And the guilt piles on.

 

Guilt and Regret

 

You think back to all the things left unsaid. All the opportunities missed to tell them how much you cared. 

 

Then there are all the things you did say that you wish you could take back. The fights you had. The things you said out of anger and pain. You don't mean them now. You wish they could hear you say you're sorry.

You think about the times you could have spent with them, but chose not to. Excuses like being too busy. Those things that seemed so big then, now unimportant. You wish you had realized how precious your time was with them. 

Losing Yourself

 

With everything you are carrying, you act out in ways that are completely out of character. You are fine one minute, then suddenly find yourself sobbing. You snap at the smallest inconvenience. You're impatient. You rage at people you love. You get confused easily. You can't remember anything. You don't have as much energy as you used to. The simplest task seems insurmountable. The things that used to matter to you don't mean a thing anymore.

 

You may start to numb yourself with alcohol, food, or binge watch videos. Or maybe you dive headfirst into overworking or over functioning to avoid feeling or thinking. Or even though you used to keep yourself really healthy, now you've stopped exercising, eating regularly, and caring for your hygiene.

 

You hardly even recognize yourself. You're a shell—just going through the motions. You're on a terrible merry-go-round that never stops. You feel completely out of control, hopeless, lost, and stuck. 

Overwhelm

 

All this only begins to touch the tip of the iceberg of everything you're feeling right now. The tidal wave of swirling emotions is too much. Everything you see reminds you of your grief. You think you're going crazy. You don't understand how this could have happened. You are flooded with memories about the past, recounting every step. You get hooked into fears that play out in your head about the future. 

 

You would have never imagined this could be your life.

I want you to know that everything you feel is normal.

 

This is a normal response to an immensely painful situation after someone you love died.

 

You may think you "should" feel something different than what you're feeling now. I want to assure you that while there are many common experiences in grief, there is not one right way, one right time, or one right feeling.

 

Everything you are feeling is part of this experience.

So now what?

Grief Counseling

If your feelings are too big to talk about, we will use art to go beyond words. We will sit with your pain in a way that feels manageable. We will organize your thoughts—break them into small, bite-sized pieces to digest one at a time. We will use art to support you regaining a steady footing when grief has dropped you to your knees.

 

Art Therapy - Something Different 

 

Everyone experiences grief differently. Some people like calm and quiet to gently heal their broken heart. Some people will strap in and work hard to get every task done. Some people will fight, needing a place to express the intensity of their rage. In all this, we need to strike a balance between expression and containment—and art therapy can do just that. 

 

Whatever your grief looks like, we can individualize your work to best fit what you need right now. And when those needs shift down the road, we can pivot. 

 

The advantage to working with me as your art therapist is that you can create an experience as unique as you are in each moment to chart this new territory.

Learn more about art therapy.

 

The Healing Process

 

Grief is not a problem to be fixed. Your grief may feel like a problem, because it is so painful. And the unhelpful myths in our culture make it worse—that grief should only last a few weeks, there are stages everyone goes through, and there is a way to grieve "correctly."

 

There is no timeline. There is no map. There are no stages.

 

You can't get it wrong. 

 

Grief isn't a disorder. Grief is a normal, yet painful, part of experiencing love. No human being is immune to grief. And yours is especially painful. 

It may take months, even years, but I promise, you will not feel this way forever.

 

We can work together to move with this grief you now carry. You didn't choose this path—no one would. But you are here now. And we can work together to figure out what to do from here. Together, we can create a future that's worth living.

 

Get Help Now

 

When all your thoughts feel like too much, I'm here to listen. I would be honored to walk with you as you adjust to this new reality you are facing. I know the landscape of grief well, and I am here to guide you along your unique journey through this unknown, rocky territory.

Hands Holding a Map

You don't have to do this alone.

Let's get started.

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