We all expect life to be manageable; we count on our experiences, education, and the kindness of others to keep us stable and in balance. And yet, even when we strive for health, harmony and prosperity, and do all we know to promote well-being, life can throw us an unexpected curve ball. Counseling is focused on helping patients, caregivers, family and friends navigate difficult medical diagnoses, chronic and terminal illness, survivorship and end-of-life challenges.
In therapy, we may address some of these common issues related to illness:
- Coping with depression, anxiety, anger and other feelings
- Managing fatigue and other psychosomatic symptoms
- Adjusting to changes in physical and body image, quality of life, and relationships
- Medical phobias
- Financial anxiety
- Being a better caregiver
- Parenting with illness or parenting a child with illness
- Talking to children about illness in a developmentally appropriate manner
- Sibling resentment and fears
- Adjusting to changing family and societal roles
- Concerns about death
- Creating a legacy and memories
- Managing long-term survivorship
- End of life issues
Grief & Loss
Coming to terms with death and loss can be one of the most difficult challenges an individual and family must confront in life. Grief involves the whole person and is manifest in a variety of ways. Emotions in grief my include sadness, longing, loneliness, sorrow, self-pity, anguish, guilt and anger; as well as relief. It can involve a very wide range of feelings, even conflicting ones. Physically, grief may be exhibited as frequent sighing, shortness of breath, tightness of the throat, muscle weakness, stomach aches, insomnia, and changes in appetite. Religious or spiritual beliefs may be reexamined as a person tries to find meaning in the loss.
People in grief often wonder “what is normal grief?” and “how long will it last?” To provide answers, it is necessary to consider the circumstances of a death as well as other factors that influence a person’s experience.
Expressing grief is healing. In therapy, the goal is to transform beliefs, assumptions and reactions that were once limiting to greater self-confidence and self-awareness, making possible significant and rewarding life changes. Viewing bereavement as an opportunity for growth can be difficult at first, but this perspective can promote gradual movement toward accommodating the loss. In addition, becoming a survivor can allow for changes in beliefs and values – understanding about death and about life – that might not have been possible otherwise.