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Life Transitions, Loss, Trauma

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Changes in life offer us all an opportunity for growth.  But sometimes we find that life transitions are associated with a loss of function, meaning, connection, and purpose. Bereavement, illness, job loss, relationship challenges, care-giving and aging are just some of the areas in which struggles may occur.

We all tend to handle grief differently, although there are some common feelings and challenges in the grieving process that have been identified through extensive research. While we each have unique emotional experiences, there are common feelings including sadness, anger, shock, guilt, outrage and disbelief.   Talking to and getting support from family and friends are very helpful parts of the healing process.  As social beings we have tools for resiliency and healing, which often occurs naturally over time when there’s support and a comfortable environment in which to recover.

When grief is complicated by trauma, multiple losses, and barriers to mourning – time to grieve and/ or a lack of support – the healing process may become prolonged or stalled.  Therapy can help you feel less alone and more empowered when you’re faced with changes and losses.  And therapy can help you find new balance and meaning in your life.

Gain support in counselling with some of the following tasks:

  • Acknowledge the reality of the loss.
  • Embrace and process the feelings of pain and sadness.
  • Adjust to a world without your loved one or to a new situation after loss.
  • Emotionally relocate the deceased to move on with life.
  • Establish a continuing role for the deceased in your life.
  • Find new meaning and a new self-identity.
  • Reconcile to the loss with renewed energy, confidence, and purpose.
  • Receive ongoing support from others.
  • Commit to the future and moving forward.
  • Develop new coping strategies.
  • Clarify goals and steps to success.
  • Use expressive and soothing tools such as poetry, journaling, listening to or playing music.

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS

After exposure to death, a life threatening situation, serious injury, or violence, most of us tend to experience some emotional turmoil, fear, nervousness, rumination about what happened, and sleep disturbance.  Over time these symptoms tend to diminish and we get back to regular activities with our full capacity to function.  When these symptoms don’t resolve, however, they can get in the way of health and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur.

Sometimes PTSD can set in after repeated or prolonged threats, such as ongoing abuse or traumatic exposure through wartime.  It may also effect those in occupations where life threatening or violent events are common.

Signs of PTSD:

  • Intrusive re-experiencing of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares and difficulty sleeping
  • Flashbacks or thoughts of the event that arise seemingly out of nowhere
  • Avoidance of things that remind one of the traumatic event
  • Nervousness, restlessness
  • Heightened startle response
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • A sense of detachment or numbness
  • Mood changes such as depression, anxiety, anger, and/or irritability

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Exposure Therapy, and tools for relaxation are some of the effective approaches that are commonly used.   We’ll draw on these tools to help you find a sense of safety, greater control, and coping skills for getting you back to your healthy sense of self.

Talking about the traumatic event can be re-traumatizing. We’ll focus more on how you’re coping today rather than dredging up painful memories.

 

I would encourage you to contact me to arrange for a free 20-minute consultation in person, by telephone, or secure video.  At that time you may share any concerns or ask any questions that you might have.

“Just as the rain brings new growth and new life, so will our tears.”

—Lynn Sorsdahl
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