While we pray for the safety of the Danish family – Jan Quist Johansen, his wife and two children – who were seized by Somali pirates two weeks ago, our hearts go to the families of the Americans who were earlier killed by other Somali pirates. The family of one of the victims, Phyllis Macay, was “terribly distraught and devasted” according to her niece in an interview. “The world is an empty place without my aunt here,” said Nina Crossland, Macay’s niece.
Nina captured well the feeling of those who are in grief due to loss of a loved one: distraught and devastated. Unfortunately, most people are not equipped to deal with grief. When not handled in a healthy manner, grief may lead to deeper depression, loss of appetite, lack of sleep, and even suicide.
This is where grief counseling helps. It is a form of counseling that aims to help persons grieve and deal with losses in a healthy manner, and aids them in moving on with their lives.
In my own practice, I find that grieving people carry several emotions at the same time: sadness, anxiety, anger, loneliness, confusion, numbness, and even guilt. I can only guess that these are the feelings that Nina Crossland’s family is dealing with right now. Grief counseling helps them identify and express these feelings, accept the reality, adjusting to life after the loss, and cope with the changes that the death brings to their lives.
In the olden times, a whole village joined a family in grief, making the burden easier. Now, an effective counselor may take over the task of being a helpful companion in this terrible journey of losing a loved one.