Should I Use Free Grief Counseling Near Me? Where Can I Find It?
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated June 12, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Unfortunately, life is full of ups and downs. Some days you'll experience a lot of joy and happiness, and then there are other times when you will have deep sadness. Some of the lowest times can be those that are spent in grief. And, while it's perfectly normal to work through the stages of grief, sometimes it's helpful to have someone to walk through the process with. One of the options to do this is to do a quick search of "free grief counseling near me." But, you may be wondering how effective it is. We'll cover that throughout this article.
What Is Grief?
It's helpful to have a good understanding of what grief is. Grief is "a cause of such suffering" or "deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement." Some people think of grief as sadness, but it's more than that.
Grief does not just happen when you lose a loved one, although that's one of the times when people experience it the most. Other circumstances that can lead to grief include losing a job, the end of a relationship, moving, or dealing with chronic illness. It's important to remember that everyone handles situations in life differently. While some may be able to take the end of a relationship in stride, others will experience grief because of it.
Symptoms of grief include:
- Anger and irritability
- Deep sadness
These are just several of a long list of symptoms that you may experience. While some people feel deep feelings of sadness, there are others that struggle to feel anything at all. Thinking that grief is supposed to look one specific way can make it hard for you to identify when you are experiencing it if your symptoms aren't what you think they are "supposed" to be.
Options For Free Grief Counseling Near You
Many people think of paying a therapist when they think of counseling. And, that's a very effective way to get help with your grief. However, there are also options for free grief counseling that can help you as well. Here are some of the options.
Hospice is an organization that comes in to care for those that are terminally ill. They also offer support for the family members when a patient passes away. Those that take advantage of the counseling can receive free counseling for just over a year after the death of their family member. This can be incredibly helpful as you work through all of those "firsts" without your loved one.
TAPS National Military Survivor Helpline
TAPS is a great place for getting therapy when you aren't able to meet in-person with a counselor. This could be because you're just not comfortable talking to someone face-to-face, or it could be because it's 1 am, and there's no one awake for you to talk to. This hotline has someone waiting to answer your call 24 hours a day. You can reach it at 800-959-TAPS (8277).
College Or School Counselor
Many times schools, colleges, and universities provide free counseling for students. If you're in school and have experienced an event that has left you dealing with grief, reach out to your school to see what options are available to you. There may be options for one-on-one counseling sessions or even group sessions that you can attend.
If you attend a church, there's a good chance that there is an option for free grief counseling. It could be through a pastor or priest or with a trained church member. When your faith is an important part of your life, you might prefer to receive counseling from someone that shares your faith with you. During difficult times, your faith can help you along with the information that you gain from counseling.
If you don't have a church that you attend, many will also allow you to do counseling with one of the pastors. Contact churches in your area to find an option that works for you.
Funeral homes are experienced in dealing with grief. Many have created options for free grief counseling. And, if they don't have any counseling that they offer, they will be able to provide you with options in your local area. If you're dealing with grief, you can try contacting a local funeral home to see what's available to you.
You may be able to find group counseling in your area that deals directly with grief. A simple search of "free grief counseling near me" online can help turn up the results that are available. You can also try searching the term "bereavement group" to see if that brings up any options for you.
Is Free Grief Counseling Effective?
You may be wondering if free grief counseling can really be effective. The simple answer yes. Bereavement counseling has been found to have a long-term benefit for those that participate. That's the keyword. For grief counseling to work, you have to give it a try.
Many groups or therapists will have exercises or recommendations on things that you can do to help with the stage that you're at. Sometimes the only thing that you'll be able to handle it simply showing up and listening, and that's OK too.
How Grief Counseling Helps
When you are experiencing grief, it's easy to feel like you're alone in your struggles. It can be incredibly helpful during grief counseling to find out that the symptoms you're experiencing are normal. Sometimes just knowing this is enough to provide you with a little bit of comfort.
During grief counseling, you can also learn strategies that you can use that will help you to work through the stages of grief. Sometimes you need someone helping you to continue moving through the process, so you don't get stuck on one stage.
And, sometimes, you need someone to listen to you. It may be that you're still sorting out your emotions and feelings and need a sounding board to list to you and help validate your feelings. Or, it may be that you want the reassurance of having a listening ear. There are many difficult things that you can go through when you're experiencing grief.
For example, if you are grieving over the death of a loved one or the ending of a long-term relationship, you are going to have to go through all of the first holidays without that other person. It may be difficult to decide how to handle things like holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries if you don't have the guidance of an experienced professional. You may feel like forgetting all about the holidays for the year, but grief counseling can help you to work through that and find a healthy way to move forward.
How To Find Help With Your Grief
If you're looking for grief counseling in your area, you can start with a simple search online. You can check for churches, schools, community organizations, or similar groups that might offer free grief counseling. You can also ask for recommendations. If you know someone that's been through a similar situation as you, they may be the perfect person to ask for advice. They may be able to point you in the right direction to find grief counseling.
Now, if you're struggling to find free grief counseling or if the options you're not comfortable with the options that you've found, there are other things that you can do.
The first is to meet one-on-one with a therapist. This is going to cost you, but there are times when it's worth it to spend the money. It might be that you couldn't find a free option that would work for you or that you gave one a try and didn't have the success that you were hoping for. Check for local therapists to find one that's right for you.
Try Online Counseling
Online counseling services like those offered by Regain can make it easy and convenient to get the grief counseling that you need, especially if it affects your relationship with your significant other. Online services mean that you can have access to a licensed therapist from anywhere you are comfortable. It could be from your home, your office, or even in your car. It's what works best for you.
Sometimes grief can be overwhelming and make it hard to get through your daily tasks if you feel like this, then the idea of going to sit in a therapist's office seems like it's just too much. If you're feeling this way, then online counseling might be the best option for you. And, it allows you to contact your therapist at the times when you need their assistance, instead of needing to wait for days or weeks to get an appointment.
Don't Stay Stuck In Your Grief
There's no denying that grief is difficult to work through. But, the last thing you want is to get stuck in your grief. Attending counseling can help you to see what steps you can take to work past your grief in a healthy way.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the seven stages of grief after a death?
Grief is an uncomfortable emotional experience. When dealing with loss, grief can be particularly intense, especially when it involves the loss of a loved one. Every loss is a result of an emotional relationship coming to an end, and in the aftermath of loss, grief follows. Many people react to grief and loss in different ways, but the grieving often plays out in stages. While these stages are known to be symptomatic of the grieving process, they don't follow a specific order or sequence, and may also occur concurrently.
The seven stages of grief are listed as follows:
Shock and disbelief
Pain and guilt
Anger and bargaining
Reflection, depression, and loneliness
Reconstruction and working through
If you are dealing with loss and grief, then grief counseling and grief support groups could be a helpful way to address your grief issues. Some of these grief support groups may be religious support groups or community support groups, and these support groups may provide grief-stricken individuals in need of counseling or couples dealing with the loss of their child or pet some level of counseling and bereavement support.
How long does mourning last?
There is no fixed period on how long to mourn the death of a loved one. Some cultures have a mandatory period of time to observe grief and loss, but ultimately, the emotional turmoil triggered by loss and grief is a deeply personal experience. Mourning could last weeks, months, and even years, but there are no rules to the process, and it's normal to find yourself feeling sad or disorientated once again after thinking you have gotten over your feelings of grief and loss.
However, if you find yourself being overwhelmed by mourning, grief therapy is one of the many ways you can recover from grief and loss. The aim of grief therapy is to identify and solve problems related to the physical, emotional, social, and cognitive responses to loss.
What is the Grief Recovery Method?
The grief recovery method is a comprehensive and effective approach to grief management and recovery. Though it shares certain similarities with grief therapy and counseling, the Grief Recovery Method is essentially a grief support program with an applicable and practical set of actions spread across eight sessions to help people dealing with emotional loss to overcome their pain and trauma.
The Grief Recovery Method is an evidence-based approach to loss and grief management that combines the collective experience of support groups along with the unique insight of individual and group counselors to provide grief support for people dealing with emotional loss. We have a dedicated team of Grief Recovery Method Specialists as well as other grief counselors available to offer you the best of online counseling, couples counseling, and family counseling at your convenience.
What is the role of a Bereavement Counselor?
Bereavement counseling—sometimes called grief counseling—refers to grief and loss counseling offered to people who have suffered a loss. The role of bereavement counselors— or grief counselors—is to guide an individual who has suffered a loss through the process of mourning and recovery. A bereavement counselor provides counseling and bereavement support and assistance either in the form of one-on-one sessions between the bereaved person and the counselor or in the form of group meetings with other bereaved people.
Many people use the terms grief counseling and grief therapy interchangeably, but grief counseling and grief therapy refer to different methods of grief support. Grief counseling involves guiding the bereaved through uncomplicated, or normal, grief to a state of emotional and mental well-being. Grief therapy, on the other hand, deals with the use of specialized techniques and tools to resolve complex or abnormal grief reactions.
How does grief affect the body?
Besides being painful, grief can also be a stressful ordeal. A study published a few years ago found that intense stress levels caused by grief can lower the immune system, thereby making them more susceptible to illnesses and infections. Grief has been known to cause chest pain, headaches, and stiffness in some people. Grief increases the risk of a heart disease caused by a muscular condition known as heartbreak syndrome, which can result in a heart attack. People experiencing grief may also suffer disrupted sleep patterns and insomnia. Though grief can result in a loss of appetite, which may cause health concerns like excessive weight loss, dizziness, and fatigue, it can also lead to unhealthy eating habits that can become harmful to the body in the long-term. Other conditions that have been attributed to grief are high blood pressure, blood clots, and nausea.
What are the 12 steps of grieving?
When suffering from loss, grief becomes an inescapable emotional response. Grief counselors and bereavement specialists believe taken a reflective approach to grief may enable the griever to overcome it. This belief has been formulated into the twelve-step recovery guideline for grief. But just like the seven stages of grief, the 12 steps Program manifest differently and doesn't adhere to a strict order of occurrence. Although the 12 Steps are based on spiritual principles, many non-religious people have found the program effective. The program emphasizes acceptance, responsibility, commitment to change, and introspection. You can read more about them here.
Is there a difference between mourning and grieving?
When people experience a sense of loss, grief becomes a way of internalizing the pain of loss. When you grieve, you are sad, angry, frustrated, and anxious. When you grieve, you spend a lot of time thinking about the person you lost, the memories you have of them, and you may even long to be with them. However, mourning is often associated with the outward expression of loss, and this involves crying, funeral preparations, praying, sharing stories, and even putting on certain kinds of clothing that depict loss. While grief and mourning are healthy parts of a bereavement, there is no right or wrong way to grieve or mourn. It is understandable if your way of dealing with loss differs from everyone around you, but it's also important that you don't suppress your feelings.
What does grief do to your brain?
When grieving, it's almost impossible to think about anything else but pain, guilt, and regret. You find yourself unable to concentrate, and your ability to plan and organize becomes muddled and distorted. These things take a psychological toll on the mind, which can lead to neurological changes in the brain. Grief over-burdens parts of the brain responsible for emotion, attention, and memory, like the amygdala, the hippocampus, the cerebellum, and the prefrontal cortex, which can trigger hormonal disruptions and comprise the nervous system. This alters the way the brain functions and makes it more sensitive to threats in the form of grief resistance. This is one of the reasons why, during the process of grief and loss counseling becomes imperative in helping to restore the mind back to a healthy state of balance and clarity.