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Healing With Compassion: The Journey Through Grief And Loss

Grief is a deeply human experience that touches each of us at some point in our lives. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a pet, a job, a relationship, or even a dream, grief can manifest in profound and complex ways. At Love This Therapy, we understand the depth of emotions that accompany grief and the importance of providing compassionate support to those of us learning to move through the waves of grief. 

Understanding Grief 

Grief is not a linear process but rather a complex and individualized experience. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s famous model of grief outlines five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While this model has been widely recognized, it’s important to note that grief doesn’t always follow a neat progression through these stages. People may experience them in different orders, revisit stages, or even experience multiple stages simultaneously. 

Research suggests that the experience of grief can vary based on cultural, social, and personal factors. For example, in some cultures, grief may be expressed more openly and collectively, while in others, it may be more private and individualized. Understanding these cultural differences is crucial in providing effective support to individuals from diverse backgrounds. 

Being With Grief 

Learning to be with grief involves a multifaceted approach that integrates emotional, cognitive, and behavioral strategies. Encouraging you to acknowledge and express your feelings, such as sadness, anger, guilt, or confusion, can facilitate the grieving process through open and honest communication (Stroebe & Schut, 2010). It’s important to find a balance between feeling the waves of grief and engaging in comforting activities to provide moments of respite from intense emotions. Self-care also plays a vital role, including activities like exercise, meditation, journaling, and spending time in nature, which promote emotional well-being and resilience. Maintaining a healthy routine with adequate sleep, nutrition, and social connections further supports overall mental health during grief. 

Modalities Used To Treat Grief And Loss 

Therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), and Art Therapy are valuable in managing grief’s emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects. 

CBT For Grief 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a structured and goal-oriented approach that helps you identify, and challenge negative thought patterns associated with grief. By examining and restructuring these thoughts, you can develop more adaptive coping strategies to navigate your grief journey effectively. This process not only enhances emotional regulation but also fosters resilience by empowering you to manage your emotions and behaviors in a healthier manner (Nezu & Nezu, 2008). 

DBT For Grief 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT integrates mindfulness practices into its framework to help you regulate intense emotions commonly experienced during grief. Through mindfulness techniques, such as observing thoughts and sensations without judgment, you can enhance your emotional awareness and tolerance. This heightened awareness allows you to navigate grief-related triggers more effectively, leading to improved emotional regulation and overall well-being (Linehan, 2015). 

EFT For Grief 

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT): EFT focuses on processing and expressing emotions within a supportive therapeutic relationship. By exploring and validating emotions related to grief, you can gain insight into your emotional experiences, promote emotional resilience, and develop healthier coping mechanisms. The emphasis on emotional processing and connection within the therapeutic relationship fosters a deeper understanding of oneself and facilitates the healing process (Greenberg, 2010). 

Art Therapy For Grief 

Art Therapy: Art Therapy offers a unique and creative outlet for you to express and process complex emotions associated with grief. Engaging in art-making activities, such as painting, drawing, or sculpting, allows you to tap into nonverbal aspects of grief expression. This process facilitates emotional release, encourages self-expression, and promotes self-discovery. Through artistic exploration, you can gain new insights, process difficult emotions, and find meaning and healing in your grief journey (Malchiodi, 2012). 

Understanding Complicated Grief 

Complicated grief, also known as prolonged grief disorder, is a condition where individuals experience enduring and intense feelings of grief that disrupt daily functioning. Dissimilar to typical grief, which tends to gradually lessen over time, complicated grief remains severe, making it difficult for those affected to resume their regular activities and responsibilities. This form of grief is characterized by a persistent longing for the deceased, intense sorrow and emotional pain, difficulty engaging in happy memories without distress, and a feeling of emptiness or meaninglessness in life. 

Recognizing The Signs Of Complicated Grief 

Key indicators of complicated grief include: 

  • Persistent longing or yearning for the deceased. 
  • Intense sadness or emotional pain that does not improve over time. 
  • Preoccupation with thoughts or memories of the deceased, to the point where other activities are neglected.  
  • Difficulty accepting the death and moving forward. 
  • A sense of numbness or detachment from others. 
  • A belief that life holds no meaning without the lost person. 
  • Avoidance of places, people, or activities that are reminders of the loss. 

These symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with your ability to function in daily life. Recognizing these signs is crucial for seeking and receiving appropriate help. 

Modalities Used For Treating Complicated Grief 

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is an effective therapeutic approach for treating complicated grief, particularly by addressing unresolved trauma linked to intense and prolonged grief responses. In EMDR, clients are guided to focus on traumatic memories while experiencing bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, which aids in processing these memories. This technique reduces the emotional distress tied to traumatic loss memories, enabling you to reprocess and adaptively integrate these events into your life. By diminishing the impact of traumatic memories, EMDR lessens overwhelming emotional responses associated with the loss, fostering a path towards healing and emotional freedom for those enduring persistent grief. 
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET): Initially developed for PTSD, Prolonged Exposure Therapy has been adapted for complicated grief. PET involves repeated, detailed imagining of the loss event and exposure to reminders of the loss, which helps reduce the distress they cause over time. This therapy aids you in processing the trauma and reducing avoidance behaviors that can maintain your state of grief. 
  • Narrative Therapy: This therapy empowers you to actively reshape your personal story. When dealing with complicated grief, it assists in discovering a renewed sense of self and purpose following a significant loss. It supports your healing process by helping you frame your loss within a story that makes sense to you, allowing you to better understand and integrate your experiences. 
  •  Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): MBCT combines cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies. It is designed to help you better understand and manage your thoughts and feelings concerning your loss, minimizing the overthinking and worry that can prolong complicated grief.  

Healing From Loss 

Healing from grief doesn’t mean forgetting or moving on from the loss; rather, it involves integrating the loss into one’s life in a way that allows for growth and meaning. Research by Bonanno (2004) highlights the concept of resilience in grief, emphasizing that many people demonstrate remarkable adaptability and growth following significant losses. 

At Love This Therapy, we are here to support you in finding your unique path to healing. This may involve exploring and reframing beliefs about the loss, finding sources of meaning and purpose, and fostering connections with supportive relationships. Narrative therapy techniques, such as storytelling and externalizing the grief experience, can be particularly effective in helping you make sense of your loss and reclaim agency in your life. 

Supporting Others In Grief 

Supporting a loved one or friend through grief is a profound responsibility that demands empathy, patience, and a willingness to actively listen. It’s crucial to establish a safe and non-judgmental space where they feel free to express their emotions without any pressure to rush through their grieving process. Validating their pain and experiences, even if you can’t fully comprehend their emotions, is incredibly important in showing your support and understanding. 

Research conducted by Shaver et al. (2005) underscores the critical role of secure attachment and emotional support in the journey of grief recovery. Being fully present, offering practical assistance, and consistently checking in on their well-being can communicate care and provide much-needed reassurance to individuals grappling with grief. Additionally, refraining from using clichés or minimizing their pain with phrases like “time heals all wounds” can create a more authentic and meaningful connection, showing that you genuinely care about their well-being and are there to support them unconditionally. 


Grief is a profound and multilayered experience that requires compassionate understanding and support. At Love This Therapy, we are here to provide a safe and nurturing environment for those navigating the complexities of grief and loss. Our team is skilled in a range of therapies designed to empower you on your journey toward healing.  

If you’re ready to take the first step towards healing, we invite you to book a session or start with a free 15–20-minute discovery call. You can reach us at 604-229-4887 or email us at Remember, moving forward is not about leaving anyone behind, it’s about carrying their memory with you as you continue to live and grow. 


  • Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying. Routledge. 
  • Stroebe, M., & Schut, H. (2010). The dual process model of coping with bereavement: A decade on. Omega-Journal of Death and Dying, 61(4), 273-289. 
  • Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59(1), 20-28. 
  • Shaver, P. R., et al. (2005). Attachment, loss, and bereavement: Dealing with death. Attachment & Human Development, 7(1), 83-92. 
  • Nezu, A. M., & Nezu, C. M. (2008). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for challenging problems: What to do when the basics don’t work. Springer Publishing Company. 
  • Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT skills training manual. Guilford Publications. 
  • Greenberg, L. S. (2010). Emotion-focused therapy: Coaching clients to work through their feelings. American Psychological Association. 
  • Malchiodi, C. A. (2012). Handbook of art therapy. Guilford Press. 

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