EMDR for Grief and Loss

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Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through, and the grieving process can be overwhelming and seemingly never-ending. It’s normal to feel a range of emotions, from sadness to anger and confusion, and to struggle with finding closure. While traditional talk therapy can be helpful, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has emerged as a promising solution to address the lingering emotional trauma that comes with grief and loss.

Types of Grief

Grief can take many forms, and each type can impact an individual’s emotional state differently. Anticipatory grief, for example, is a type of grief that occurs when someone knows that their loved one is dying, and they begin to experience feelings of loss before their loved one has even passed away. Complicated grief is another type of grief that can occur when a person is unable to process their emotions and continues to feel intense grief long after the death of their loved one. EMDR therapy can address all of these different types of grief by helping individuals process and resolve the negative emotions associated with their loss.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach that was developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Francine Shapiro. EMDR is based on the theory that traumatic experiences can become stuck in the brain, causing distress and other negative symptoms. During EMDR therapy, a therapist will use a combination of bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, tapping or tones, to help the client reprocess negative memories and experiences.

How EMDR can help with grief and loss

Grief and loss can lead to intense feelings of sadness, guilt, anger, and confusion. These emotions can become overwhelming and lead to a prolonged period of mourning. EMDR therapy can help individuals process their grief and loss by reducing the intensity of these emotions and allowing the individual to find a sense of closure. The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR therapy has been shown to activate the brain’s natural healing processes, leading to a resolution of trauma and distressing memories.

The EMDR Process for Grief and Loss

The EMDR process for grief and loss involves several phases that are similar to the standard EMDR protocol. These phases include preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, and closure. During the preparation phase, the therapist will work with the client to identify the specific memories or events that are causing distress. In the assessment phase, the therapist will determine the severity of the client’s symptoms and create a treatment plan.

During the desensitization phase, the therapist will use bilateral stimulation to help the client reprocess the negative memories associated with grief and loss. In the installation phase, the therapist will work with the client to install positive beliefs or coping mechanisms to replace the negative thoughts and emotions. The body scan phase involves checking in with the client to ensure that they are no longer experiencing distress. Finally, the closure phase is used to bring the session to a close and ensure that the client is feeling calm and safe.

Considerations when using EMDR for grief and loss

EMDR therapy is not suitable for everyone, and it is essential to find a qualified therapist who has experience in treating grief and loss. Some individuals may experience side effects such as vivid dreams, emotional distress, or physical sensations during or after a session. It is essential to discuss these potential side effects with your therapist and develop a plan for managing them.

Find Hope with EMDR

EMDR therapy can be an effective treatment for individuals who are struggling with grief and loss. By using bilateral stimulation to reprocess negative memories and emotions, individuals can find relief from their symptoms and find a sense of closure. If you are interested in EMDR therapy, be sure to find a qualified therapist who has experience in treating grief and loss. With the right support, you can work through your grief and find a path towards healing.

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3 thoughts on “EMDR for Grief and Loss

  1. Following the sudden and tragic death of a loved one, my workmate has been grappling with overwhelming grief and emotional distress. Learning about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) as a potential therapeutic approach to process her trauma and cope with the loss, she’s seriously considering it to find a way to heal and navigate through this difficult period in her life. As you mentioned, by lessening the intensity of these feelings and enabling the person to come to terms with their loss, EMDR treatment can aid in the processing of grieving.

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