A Mental Health Moment: Grief and Change

Bernadette Joy Graham,
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC, CCHt, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor

The true definition of grief is: the normal and natural reaction to a loss of any kind.  Most people associate the word grief with death and while it can be one of the most difficult types of loss there are many other experiences, we encounter throughout our lifetime in which we grieve.

Unfortunately, over a lifetime we encounter many, many, many losses that we will sweep under the rug, put on a good face and believe “we will just get over it.”  (That will never be the case)

Some losses we may incur are death of a pet, moving, empty nest, legal problems, starting school, graduating from school, end of addictions, major health changes, retirement, financial changes – positive or negative, holidays and death of a former spouse.  This is not an exhaustive list but what you may see as common through each is they all involve change.  Many individuals find change difficult, demanding and outright uncomfortable.

I receive countless calls from potential clients about seeking help due to the loss of a loved one from death.   Some reach out immediately, some reach out months to years later and some reach out while they wait and anticipate the death of a loved one such as from terminal cancers or other health problems that have left the person a time frame of three weeks to six months.

First and foremost, I commend the individual for reaching out to address her pain and suffering.  It takes great courage to call upon a stranger seeking help.  I very quickly let her know that I empathize with her broken heart.  I do not tell her I know how she feels because she already knows how she feels and it probably is not good.

Many people do go through various stages, in no particular order, and often cycle back through for sometimes months and years to come.  Shock and denial may cause an individual to feel numb in addition to the significant pain….a pain that no one would wish on their worst enemy.

Regardless of your type of loss, change will happen whether you decide to be a part of that change or not.  While death is finite, many find it the most difficult to move on with their lives.  There are no replacements of people.  When an individual loses a spouse, he will either remain widowed or he may remarry but he will forever carry on the memory of his first spouse.  If he lost a spouse through a divorce, again he has a choice to remarry or remain single but the memory will forever be a part of his life.

When working with individuals who have experienced grief and loss through a series of small and slow steps, I assist them in creating a new perspective of their future.  The griever must be open to change because it is the only step toward her living a fulfilled life regardless of the loss.

Many individuals ask why graduating, marriage or becoming a new parent could be considered a grief related experience.  Again, it’s due to a change in one’s lifestyle.  Yes, it is a most wonderful accomplishment to graduate, to get married and have a child but many individuals find themselves experiencing symptoms of depression and or anxiety because it is new and different and can cause fear and doubt about their ability to this new way of life.

Everything and everyone have a beginning and everything and everyone has and ending.  If you feel you are struggling emotionally, mentally and even physically due to a change in your life, please reach out to a professional provider sooner than later.  Over time, many changes will build up leaving us to feel overwhelmed and saturated in pain that can cause continued feelings of defeat.  You do not have to feel broken nor do you have to give up on your life plans.  Grief is the price we pay for love.  “In a word there are three things that last forever, faith, hope, and love but the greatest of them all is love.”  1 Corinthians 13


Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Provide feedback or reach out at graham.bernadette@gmail.com  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929  (Appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 3454 Oak Alley Ct. Suite 300 Toledo, OH 43606 www.bjgrahamcounseling.org  Available for team building, employee empowerment in motivation and better understanding mental health in the work place.  Accepting new client ages 13 and older.