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    9/26/2021: Grief and CBT

     By Shiri Shapira-Simchi

Grief is a normal and natural process, it is in fact an integral part of the loss of people who we loved and were important to us, when the feeling of sadness and emotional difficulty are the domain of most grief. At the same time, the question arises as to when grief ceases to be defined as natural or normative and becomes pathological – and, in such a case, requires the intervention of various professional therapeutic factors.

In order to treat pathological grief one must first learn to recognize it. The symptoms of pathological grief are reminiscent of the symptoms of clinical depression and include: pessimism, difficulty in daily functioning, sleep problems, lack of interest, loneliness, helplessness and, in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts may arise in the mourner's head (thinking they cannot continue their life without the same person they lost). Of course, many of these symptoms are also characteristic normative grief, but when they persist over time, this should serve as a warning sign and require diagnosis and treatment - in most cases, those close to the mourner are the ones who should pay attention to these symptoms and refer them for treatment.

One of the treatment techniques that can help a person in pathological grief is CBT. CBT is a cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is designed to help the patient create meaning in life even without the presence of the person who has died. The goal of therapy is to replace the difficult thoughts with new, constructive, and comforting thoughts.

Of course, the treatment is individually tailored to the patient, emphasizing the type of loss, the type and severity of symptoms he experiences and other parameters that affect the coping process - when the goal is always the same goal - to allow them to embark on a new path that is more optimistic. 

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