Dealing with the death of a close friend or loved one is one of life's most difficult challenges. A loved one's death can profoundly affect you. The emotional pain will most likely overtake you, leaving you feeling grief's intense pain and suffering.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is Christian Grief Counseling?
- How Does Christian Grief Counseling Differ From Traditional Grief Counseling?
- What Typically Happens During a Christian Grief Counseling Session?
- What Are Popular Christian Grief Counseling Techniques?
- Tips for Finding Christian Grief Counseling Near You
Grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss that can affect your daily life, thoughts, and behaviors. Everyone will uniquely experience their pain and suffering, with many factors contributing to each individual's reactions to loss.
Individuals dealing with the loss of a loved one have choices in the type of counseling or therapy they receive. Pastoral or Christian grief counseling is a faith-based approach to healing from grief and sorrow. Christian grief counselors provide skilled biblical counseling and compassionate care to help bereaved individuals find hope, peace, and healing through loss.
What Is Christian Grief Counseling?
Christian grief counseling is also known as pastoral or biblical counseling, and it combines traditional principles of psychology and psychotherapy with a faith-based approach to healing. Counseling based on religion, faith, and belief principles provides an added layer to improving your mental health and relationships while healing your pain and suffering.
This approach to healing relies heavily on biblical teachings, scripture, and parables to help you get through the most challenging times after suffering loss. The cornerstone of this type of counseling is God's teachings in the Bible. Structured counseling based on Christian principles lends the way to accepting their experiences in life based on God's will.
Even those who aren't particularly religious may find solace in hearing about God's ultimate plan. A Christian counselor will explain God's will as described in the Bible and how His will may directly contradict the hopes and plans individuals have concerning their loved ones. Through biblical counseling, individuals can learn to accept their loss as part of an overall grand plan that God has for each individual.
This faith-based therapy approach is an excellent option for individuals who want to incorporate their religious beliefs and upbringing into their grief healing process and journey. Religion can be a strong stabilizer for those who are suffering profoundly and need additional support getting them through their grief.
Anyone can request and receive Christian grief counseling regardless of their religious beliefs or affiliations. It’s all a matter of getting connected with the right counselor for your needs.
How Does Christian Grief Counseling Differ From Traditional Grief Counseling?
Traditional grief counseling and Christian faith-based counseling both recognize and understand the impact of the symptoms of grief on a bereaved individual. They each examine grief, the effects of grief, and how they each impact the grieving individual. However, they each accomplish this from different perspectives.
One focuses on the traditional and proven methods of psychotherapy and the cognitive-behavioral approach, while the other adds a layer that includes religious beliefs and practices.
Traditional grief counseling
Traditional sources of support for bereaved individuals include healthcare professionals, social workers, mental health counselors, and therapists. These professionals offer grief resources, bereavement support, and counseling in a clinical setting that doesn't typically include a religious component. They provide practical, emotional, and psychological support in the period immediately following a death and in the months and years that follow.
Many people suffering through grief find it challenging to cope with their experiences after losing a loved one or experiencing another significant loss. This group of professionals has special skills in caring for grieving individuals and their families, and each plays an essential role in the grief healing process.
Doctors and other healthcare professionals typically provide the first level of support immediately following a death, while social workers and mental health counselors offer interim and long-term support services.
Faith-based grief counseling
Christian grief counseling focuses on how Christianity affects the grieving process. Counselors present therapies and techniques in a way that makes grief and loss easier to understand from a religious standpoint. They expertly weave religious concepts and spiritual teachings into each session so that the grieving individual gains a different perspective on their suffering.
Ministers, pastoral counselors, chaplains, and other religious leaders provide non-clinical, faith-based counseling to individuals seeking deeper meaning in their loss and spiritual guidance as they cope with their grief.
Non-clinical grief and bereavement counselors provide skilled mental health care and grief counseling services based on personal experience, religious training, and specialized education. You'll find that chaplains, clergy, trained volunteers, and pastoral counselors make up those assisting in an individual's spiritual grief journey.
Christian grief counseling recognizes the popular models of loss and bereavement that view grief as a series of stages a person goes through as they grieve. In addition to walking individuals through the five stages of grief, they provide a roadmap to follow that acts as a marker in their grief healing journey.
In essence, spiritual grief counselors incorporate the five stages of grief into their spiritual teachings while giving hope, restoring faith, and offering comfort to those suffering.
What Typically Happens During a Christian Grief Counseling Session?
When deciding to seek Christian grief counseling either in person or through an online grief counseling provider, you can expect to reconnect to your higher self, religion, and higher power. Spiritual grief counselors examine the grieving process and how you cope with grief in the context of your religious beliefs and understandings. Your counselor will guide you in learning how each affects your relationships and the consequences of death and loss on them.
Because all individuals grieve differently, a grief counselor often touches on some significant factors that affect a person’s suffering, including the following.
- The relationship to the deceased
- Their thoughts and beliefs about death
- Their personality
Spiritual grief counselors providing pastoral care recognize that many people turn to their faith during their most challenging times. Religion is considered one of the most important resources for coping through grief, healing from it, and moving forward after loss. As they experience the death of a loved one, many individuals will turn to God as a source of support and solace.
You can expect that a Christian grief counselor will introduce you to the primary and fundamental principles in Christianity, such as the resurrection of Christ and the hope of everlasting life. They will walk you through reclaiming any abandoned spiritual beliefs in the wake of the death of your loved one and will help you find answers to why your loved one died and where God was during their suffering.
What Are Popular Christian Grief Counseling Techniques?
Some popular theories and techniques associated with Christian grief counseling include narrative therapies, biblical counseling, and attachment theory counseling. These work together and individually to provide a grieving individual with the help and support they need to get through some of the most challenging moments of their grief journey. Unfortunately for many people suffering the death of a loved one, they won't contact a grief counselor until well into the grieving process.
Narrative therapy encourages the telling and retelling of the story behind the loss. Storytelling assists an individual with their grief work by helping them understand their grief and find meaning in their loss. Much like traditional grief counseling, Christian grief counseling allows an individual to talk about the loved one who died, how the death has affected them, and the consequences associated with their loss.
Christian grief counseling allows the counselor to incorporate Christian religious principles into the bereavement therapy they offer. Many counselors rely on biblical teachings and stories to help grieving individuals work through their loss. They use meaningful scripture that talks about death, dying, and God's promise of eternal life.
Tips for Finding Christian Grief Counseling Near You
Online counseling is a great way to get your feet wet to see what Christian grief counseling is all about without having to commit too much of yourself or your time. Choosing between in-person and online counseling sessions comes down to personal choice, convenience, and the level of commitment required of you.
If you're ready to make that leap into in-person counseling sessions, you can start by visiting Christian churches or worship centers in your area. Almost all houses of worship will have someone they can refer you to, if not someone directly related to the church.
Many Christian grief counselors who offer online services and are not affiliated with a particular church won't require you to belong to any church group or affiliation. They're independent yet still base their counseling on the fundamental principles of Christianity and biblical teachings. Here are a few direct ways you can begin your search for a counselor that’s right for you.
- Ask your friends, family members, or trusted coworkers for recommendations.
- Consult a reliable online database.
- Reach out to houses of worship in your area.
- Seek out community resources.
- Narrow your search to your specific area of concern.
When to Choose Christian Grief Counseling
Knowing when to choose pastoral grief counseling over secular counseling is a personal choice based on your individual needs. Consider whether you want and are ready to approach your mental health and grief healing from a spiritual standpoint.
Faith-based counseling can provide you with additional help and support that may be missing in secular grief counseling. It may offer you an opportunity to heal your mind and soul in a more spiritually profound way than ordinary counseling.