There is no timeline for grief. You may have experienced a recent loss, or maybe time has stood still forever. Do you wonder why the world keeps going on when your life has been so terribly interrupted? Do loved ones urge you to move on with your life when you aren’t anywhere ready to do so? Or well-meaning friends give you advice on how to feel better or to “let go”? Maybe you believe that you’re supposed to have completed the grief process and are worried that something is wrong with you because you haven’t—because you’re nowhere close to feeling any better.

Sometimes the loss of a loved one can be complicated or traumatic. If this is the case, do you feel guilt, anger, confusion? Or maybe you are working really hard to not feel the feelings. Are you trying to avoid the heartbreak of grief? Numbing out? Working too much or too hard? Maybe your sleep has been affected or your relationships. Or have you been rushing around, plowing through, running on automatic pilot? Grief is especially hard if your support system is also grieving the loss. Who is there to support you in this case? And how do you support those who need you as they grieve?


Grief is a vital part of being in relationship and of being alive. We lose people to divorce, separation, and death. Friendships end. Our beloved pets die. You may be grieving the loss of an important job or opportunity. You may be grieving because life got all turned around, and it’s not going at all the way you planned. You may have lost a child, or maybe now, with the death of a parent, you are an orphan. Or perhaps you are grieving the innumerable losses of life from ongoing climate change. In many cultures and in other times, grief and mourning are given a special place and time. This is more difficult in our society. You need a place to go where you can be with all of your feelings, questions, and sorrow. To sit with a grief counselor who won’t make you try to feel better but will help you move through your grief, who makes and holds space for you to be with your grief—this can heal the aching, keening heart.  



Even if grief is a normal human process, this fact doesn’t make it hurt any less. And there is no one way to grieve. There are as many ways to grieve as there are people. At the same time, there are tools for this journey as well. There are many misconceptions and myths about grief that can complicate the process.

What is the difference between mourning and grief?

Am I crazy? Is this normal?

Why am I relieved that my loved one has passed on; is that wrong of me?

Why can’t I cry? Why can’t I stop crying?  

Learning about and coming to understand your grief can help you find your way through. Bringing your questions, stories, and confusions to a grief counselor gives much needed relief. As a therapist who works with grief and traumatic loss, I explore with you how to strengthen self-care, respond to family and friends, support others impacted by the loss, and navigate the overwhelming daily challenges that come after your life has been changed forever.


Some questions you might have before deciding to enter into grief counseling.

If grief is such a natural process, why can’t I do this on my own?

It is, of course, possible to go through your grief without therapy. Many people do. Some people, however, benefit from grief therapy. Perhaps your support system is compromised by the same loss you are grieving. Or you find yourself struggling with “side effects” of grief such as insomnia, what may feel like depression or anxiety, or numbing behaviors. A grief counselor can be an essential support as you make your way through the dark days when it feels impossible to do it on your own.

I’ve heard about “complicated grief.” Is it possible this is what’s going on with me?

This is something that you and your counselor can discuss. Complicated grief simply means that you feel like you’ve gotten stuck or that, instead of the grief getting easier with time, it’s actually become more intolerable. If this is the case, therapy can be very helpful and is highly recommended.

Part of me doesn’t want to stop grieving or to feel better. Will my therapist force me to “get over it?”

This is a natural response to the loss of a beloved. We want to stay connected with them any way possible, even if it means to keep on grieving. We believe that if we stop grieving then we lose our connection with our loved one. A compassionate, experienced grief counselor knows not to push or hurry the grief process along. Your deep connection with your loved one is honored at every turn. You will learn to work through grief and maintain a deep connection with your beloved.



Very few of us reach our middle adult years without having experienced grief in some form or fashion. And I have worked through many losses over the course of my life. Some have been heartrending and tragic, loved ones gone much too young and much too suddenly. I have lost several people I love dearly through separation. They are still walking in this world, and so this is a particularly unique grief. In my many years of trauma work, I have worked with clients who have suffered unbearable, violent loss; clients who have lost their child, an unthinkable grief; clients who could not make any sense of their loss for many months. We have sat together in very dark places, wondering how in the world we’d ever get to the other side. And we always have. I am familiar with the winding, difficult roads of grief and loss.


If you think it may be time to seek grief counseling, I offer a 15 minute phone consultation or a 30 minute initial office consultation. Please call 425-238-2765, send an email to robinbarre@whidbey.com, or fill out the Contact Form. I respond to all inquiries and communications within 48 hours. I invite you to explore the menu on the right for more information and resources regarding grief and traumatic loss.


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