Working Through Grief in Group Therapy

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Working Through Grief in Group Therapy

Loss can be a truly traumatic and ground-shaking experience that no person should have to confront alone. A social support system is critical for healthily processing the stages of grief. You can overcome turmoil by participating in group therapy and connecting with others who understand what you are going through.

The Classic DABDA Model of Grief

Grief is an emotional state of deep sorrow that occurs after the death of a loved one. Researchers have proposed various models to make sense of the grieving process and help clients who need support. The most commonly taught model, DABDA, was developed by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969 after conducting research on terminally ill patients. Her model has since been applied to other significant life changes and proposes five stages of grief that you move through after a loss:

Denial: You refuse to believe the state of your reality. You may be confused and in shock.

Anger: You recognize your situation but are still resistant to accepting it. You may become angry with yourself and others and question how this could be happening.

Bargaining: You try in vain to remediate the situation, sometimes negotiating with a higher power: “If you bring him back, I won’t ever do anything wrong again.” This is an attempt to gain control over a situation that cannot be changed.

Depression: You start to see your situation for what it is. You fall into depression and loneliness that can last a long time as you mourn your loss.

Acceptance: This is when you start to move on with your life and adjust to a new normal without your loved one.

Dealing With Grief Is Complex

These five stages of grief are now understood to be more like states. Rather than moving predictably from denial to acceptance, you can experience the stages of grief in a different order, with some stages not being experienced at all.

Your age, coping strategies, and the circumstances surrounding the death contribute to how loss is experienced and moved through. However you deal with grief, it is important to understand there is not a form-fitting model or “right way” that every person must follow in order to process loss.

Using Substances to Cope With Loss

Alcohol and drugs are commonly used to deal with the pain and trauma of war, disease, and other traumas. For instance, the CDC reports that in 2021, “there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States… an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before.”

Drug and alcohol abuse is a growing public health crisis that incurs high costs to health and quality of life. It does not make grief and other distressing emotions go away. Substances can actually make depression worse and lead to addiction. Social support is crucial to moving on without the need for substances.

Finding Social Support in Group Therapy

In reference to addiction, SAMSHA explains, “recovery is supported through relationship and social networks.” This also holds true for recovery from mental health struggles such as bereavement. It is important to have people in your life that believe in your ability to make progress and support you along the way, especially when living life on life’s terms becomes difficult.

A professionally-led therapy session in a group setting is one way of developing the social connections you need to work through grief in a safe and nurturing environment. You can learn from one another by sharing personal experiences and coping strategies. By relating to others and conversing, a sense of hope can be cultivated. You can be reminded that there are brighter days ahead. A therapist will guide discussions and exercises that help you understand and manage your emotions more effectively.

Experiencing Loss With Loving Support

Unfortunately, loss is something that you will have to confront at some point in your life. This inconvenient truth does not make it any easier to deal with the death of a beloved family member or a lifelong friend. You may be tempted to self-isolate and turn to the bottle or drugs to escape the pain of losing someone dear to you. There are healthier and safer alternatives to dealing with the intense emotions caused by losing anyone you love and care about.

Treatment facilities offer addiction and mental health services that can help you work through these life challenges with professionals and peers. You can find your way out by finding your way into group therapy and addiction treatment.

Grief is a complex emotion that follows after losing a loved one. Some may turn to substances to suppress memories and feelings that are seemingly too overwhelming to face at that moment, putting their quality of life at risk from addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions like depression and anger. Avalon Malibu is a California state-licensed treatment facility in Southern California that specializes in recovery from addiction and mental health. We focus our attention on ensuring all clients that pass through our doors reach a state of serenity and happiness, both in mind and spirit. Our individualized approach ensures that clients are provided the tools needed to heal their minds, body, and spirit in pursuit of recovery from grief and substance abuse. Our clinicians have years of practical experience and hands-on training required to help you start a new chapter despite life’s challenges. Call (844) 857-5992 to learn how we can help. 

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