S.O.S Situations: When to Refer Someone/Suggest Grief Counseling

Earlier this month, I provided you with a refreshed grief resource list. Many may wonder, "Great! I have these resources but how will I know when to seek out these resources?" Others have also asked me, "What should we be looking out for when knowing the best time to refer someone to/suggest grief counseling?" These are great questions as seeking out and referring to grief counseling can be really tricky.


In this blog article, we will talk about what I like to call the S.O.S Situations:

S = Stuck

O = Overwhelmed

S = "Is something wrong with me?"

I created this acronym after hearing my clients communicate the experiences that initially brought them to therapy to begin their grief journey. As I listened and validated their experiences, I was also hearing themes coming from the majority of my clients that encouraged them to seek guidance in walking through their grief journey. In hearing these common themes across multiple sources, I knew I had to provide this information to others in hopes of making the start to your grief journey a little less tricky. Let's break each of these down.

S.O.S Situations: Stuck

"I'm feeling stuck. I'm not sure where to go from here." Sound familiar? The first S simply refers to individuals communicating feelings of being "stuck" now that their loved one has passed. This feeling of stuck-ness can leave individuals wondering how they're going to continue on without their loved one. In particular, how will their life look different and how are they different as an individaul? These two questions are explored and answered in the work I do with my clients (stay tuned for a future blog article discussing meaning making in grief and loss). Feeling stuck may also stem from unresolved areas/pending situations related to the passing of their loved one preventing an individaul beginning their grief journey.

S.O.S Situations: Overwhelmed

"I'm just so overwhelmed with everything!" When we're greiving, we carry a lot on our shoulders and it brings many different challenges to individuals. The O refers to individuals feeling overwhelmed by the many different experiences brought on while greiving. Experiences contributing to feeling overwhelmed include but are not limited to:

  • Navigating the logistics of the loss (most common: funeral/memorial service)

  • Feeling surprising emotions attached to grief

  • Noticing the layers of change that comes with loss

  • Attempting to navigate every day life

  • Feeling stuck and uncertain about how life will look different

This is a lot to attempt to navigate on your own. Grief is complex and can leave us feeling overwhelmed; please don't feel like you have to walk this journey alone!

S.O.S Situations: "Is something wrong with me?"

These feelings of being stuck and overwhelmed can leave individuals engaging in behaviors and having thoughts/experiences that are unusual to them; resulting in them wondering, "Is there something wrong with me?" or "Am I crazy?" (Stay tuned for a future blog article discussing some of the most common experiences leaving individuals wondering "Am I crazy?")

I will tell you right now, NO! You are not crazy and there is nothing wrong with you. These are typical responses to loss. Our loved ones make up a big part of our foundation and when this is shaken/broken we strive to regain that security; sometimes, that is executed in ways that are abnormal to what we consider to be our norm.

Real Reflections

Are you experiencing any S.O.S Situations?

If you're experiencing any of these S.O.S situations, I'd like to invite you to explore what you might want your first steps to be in beginning to walk through your grief journey. Is it reading various blog articles to start normalizing your experience(s)? Is it seeking out a support group to be surrounded by others who are having similar experiences? Is it seeking individaul counseling?

Regardless of how you choose to navigate these S.O.S situations, please know you do not have to walk this journey on your own. There are a wide range of resources available to help you during this difficult time.

Here's to living a better life as your best self.

Brittany Squillace, MA, LMFT

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