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Grief Counselling: A Necessity for Healing Complex Grief

Updated: Aug 4, 2023


Grief counselling for Complex Grief

The loss of a loved one is a significant life event that can cause emotional pain and lasting effects on an individual's mental and physical well-being. Grieving is a natural process that everyone experiences differently, but it can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate alone. Grief counselling is a valuable resource that can help individuals cope with their loss and move forward in life.


Our goals for grief counselling are:


1) to provide a safe and supportive environment for our clients to express their emotions and work through their grief.


2) identify coping mechanisms


3) learn how to navigate their new reality without their loved ones.



Online Complex Grief Psychotherapy in Ontario


Grief counselling can be individual or group-based, and it can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each person.


1. Safe space for individuals to express their emotions: When someone experiences a significant loss, they may feel isolated and unable to talk to their friends and family about their emotions. Grief counselling provides a non-judgmental environment where our clients can express their feelings without fear of being misunderstood or judged.


2. Identify coping mechanisms: Everyone grieves differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to coping with loss. Grief counselling can help individuals identify healthy coping mechanisms that work for them. For example, some of our clients find solace in journaling, while others may benefit from exercise or art therapy.


3. Learn how to navigate a new reality: After the loss of a loved one, individuals may struggle with their new reality. Grief counselling can provide them with tools to help them adjust to their new life. For example, we often help our clients set new goals or create new routines to help them move forward.


Grief counselling is an essential resource for individuals who are experiencing the loss of a loved one. It provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to express their feelings, identify coping mechanisms, and learn how to navigate their new reality. Grief counselling can help individuals move forward in life while still honouring the memory of their loved one. Many of our clients tell us that it played a valuable and crucial role in their healing process.


Virtual Grief counselling in Ontario


Understanding the Process of Mourning


Grief is a complex and unique experience that individuals encounter when they face a loss. It can occur due to the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, or any other significant life change. There are several theories that aim to understand the various stages of mourning and provide frameworks for individuals to cope with their loss.




Grief theories provide a roadmap for individuals to navigate the complex emotions and behaviours they may experience during the mourning process. The different theories offer insights into the various stages, cycles, and processes of grief. It is important to recognize that grief is not linear, and individuals may experience the stages in different orders and intensity levels. Grief counsellors use grief theories to direct them in providing support, understanding, and guidance for individuals who are grieving.



One of the most well-known models is the Kübler-Ross model. This theory highlights five stages of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. According to this model, individuals may experience these stages in different orders, and they may not experience them all. Most of our clients come to us knowing this model and are concerned that their grief journey is not moving through the stages as neatly as this theory lays out. They think there must be something wrong with them; that they are not grieving ‘correctly’. It is often comforting for them to hear that this staged model of grief has been mostly invalidated as a grief theory not only by academics and grief professionals, but also by the original author herself.



Virtual Grief Therapy in Ontario

Dual Process Model of Grief (DPM)


Another model is the Dual Process Model of Grief (DPM). This theory emphasizes the oscillation between loss-oriented and restoration-oriented processes. Loss-oriented processes include grief, sadness, and longing, while restoration-oriented processes include adapting to new roles, finding new relationships, and engaging in new activities. The Dual Process Model recognizes that individuals may fluctuate between these processes and that both are essential for the mourning process.


Meaning Reconstruction Model (MRM)


A third theory is the Meaning Reconstruction Model (MRM). This model suggests that individuals seek to find meaning in their loss and that the process of meaning-making is essential for healing. The Meaning Reconstruction Model recognizes that individuals may experience negative emotions and distress during the mourning process. However, it also highlights the importance of finding positive outcomes, such as personal growth, resilience, and a new sense of purpose.


Grief is a complex and unique experience, and everyone experiences it differently. Grief theories provide a framework for understanding the various stages and processes of mourning. The different models offer practical applications for individuals who are grieving, including providing support, guidance, and understanding. By recognizing the different stages and processes of grief, we can support our clients to begin to heal and find meaning in their loss.


Complex Grief


Complex Grief is a natural emotion that everyone experiences after losing someone or something significant in their lives. However, not all grief is the same. Most people recover from loss successfully on their own or with the support of friends and family. Others, however, find themselves stuck and unable to move on, experiencing what is known as complex grief, a more intense and prolonged version of the emotion.


Complex grief is a type of grief that is more intense and prolonged than regular grief. It is often caused by the loss of a significant relationship or attachment, such as the death of a spouse, child, or parent. Symptoms of complex grief include intense feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, and disbelief that persist for more than six months after the loss. People with complex grief may also have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating.


One of the defining characteristics of complex grief is the prolonged duration of the symptoms. Regular grief typically lasts for a few weeks or months, but complex grief can persist for years. For example, a person who loses a spouse may experience intense feelings of loneliness and sadness for years after the loss. They may struggle to move on with their life, even after several years have passed.


Complex Grief Psychotherapy in Ontario

Another symptom of complex grief is the overwhelming emotions that people experience. People with complex grief may feel an intense sense of guilt, anger, or disbelief that they cannot shake off. For instance, a person who loses a child may feel guilty about things they did or did not do while their child was alive. They may also feel angry at the unfairness of their loss and struggle to come to terms with it.


Complex grief can also have a significant impact on a person's mental and physical health. Many of our clients with complex grief come to us after experiencing difficulty sleeping, eating, and engaging in regular activities. They may also be more prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. If a person who loses a loved one struggles to eat or sleep for weeks after the loss, it can lead to physical and mental health problems.


Because it is so much more intense and prolonged than ‘regular’ grief, and because of the impact it can have on both the physical and mental wellbeing of the griever, it is essential for people with complex grief to seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals to help them cope with their loss.


Grief is a natural response to loss, and it affects individuals differently. Some people move through their grief and recover quickly, while others struggle with the process for years.


Psychotherapy is a form of treatment that can be helpful for individuals experiencing grief. Psychotherapy is a type of treatment used to help individuals with emotional, behavioral, or mental health issues. It is a collaborative process between a therapist and a client, aimed at identifying and changing negative thoughts, behaviors, or emotions. Grief is an emotional response to loss, and psychotherapy can be useful in helping individuals process their grief.



Effective psychotherapy


1. Provides a Safe Space where individuals can express their feelings without feeling judged. This environment helps people open up and explore their emotions and thoughts about their loss. A therapist provides a supportive and non-judgmental environment that helps clients feel understood, heard, and validated.


2. Helps to Identify Negative: Thoughts and Behaviors: Grief can lead individuals to develop negative thoughts and behaviors that can impact their daily life. Psychotherapy helps individuals identify these negative thoughts and behaviors, challenge them, and replace them with more positive ones. This process helps individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with their loss.


3. Offers Support and Guidance: Grief can be an isolating experience, and individuals may feel like they have no one to turn to. Psychotherapy can offer support and guidance through the grieving process. A therapist can provide individuals with tools to help them cope with their emotions and support them as they navigate their journey.


4. Helps to Develop Resilience: Grief can be a significant challenge, but it can also be an opportunity for growth. Psychotherapy helps individuals develop resilience by encouraging them to process their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. This process can help individuals develop a better understanding of themselves and help them move forward with their lives.


Online counselling for grief in Ontario

A person who has lost a loved one may experience feelings of guilt or shame. Psychotherapy can help individuals identify these feelings and challenge them. A therapist can provide guidance on how to deal with these emotions and help individuals develop a more positive outlook on life. If a person has experienced trauma due to a sudden loss, psychotherapy can help them process their emotions and provide them with tools to cope with the trauma. A therapist can help individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the loss and provide support as they work through their grief.



Psychotherapy can be very effective at helping individuals navigate the grieving process and move forward with their lives. If you are experiencing grief, consider seeking psychotherapy to help you through the process. The experts at Kintsugi Counselling are here to help you put your life back together after a tragic loss.

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