Soul Care: Christian Grief Counseling Tucson

Are you struggling to process a loss? Are you looking for a Christian grief counselor in Tucson? You’re in the right place! If you’re burdened by the weight of grief, or you feel as if you just can’t unbury yourself from the heavy load of sadness, Christian grief counseling can help! 

Grief is a reaction to loss that can encompass a range of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. It is experienced differently by each person, according to your personality, beliefs, and relationship to the loss. Feelings common to grief are sadness, yearning, guilt, regret, and anger – and a sense meaninglessness can also be present. Emotions can be surprising in their strength or mildness, and contrary to the expectations of the griever.

Thoughts during grief can vary from “there’s nothing I can do about it” to “it’s my fault, I could have done more” to “he had a good life” to “it wasn’t her time.” Your thoughts can be troubling or comforting, and as you grieve your thoughts can bounce all over as you try to make sense of your loss. Grieving behaviors run from crying to laughter; sharing feelings to engaging silently in activities. They can involve being with others or by oneself.

Grieving is a natural response when someone or something you love has been taken away or your life or relationships have changes as a result of loss. It’s normal to feel and wrestle with deep emotions while grieving. It’s also possible to learn techniques and methods that will help you cope with your grief in a healthy way rather than feel like you’re foundering the middle of the ocean. 

Grief counseling can help you understand your feelings, to put the loss in the proper perspective and move forward in your life with the loss in perspective rather than on top of you.  In counseling you can learn to tell your grief story, learn how to grieve, learn self-care tips, and learn that grief is normal and necessary.

Christian Grief Counseling Tucson with Marybeth Steigenga, PhD

Marybeth Steigenga, PhD, BCPC holds a doctorate degree in Christian counseling. She is an ordained minister of pastoral care and a board certified pastoral counselor (BCPC) and certified grief support specialist. She is a mature, seasoned believer with a heart for the wounded. Read her statement of faith or learn more about her personal grief story. Marybeth has a cozy office at Joshua Tree Counseling, well suited for healing and connection as you explore and process, and work through the pain of your loss. Christian grief counseling with Marybeth is Biblical, relational, and practical. She will join you on your grief journey and walk alongside you as you process, explore your thoughts and feelings, and tell the story as many times as you need to tell it. While others may have backed away from you, leaving you feeling along, Marybeth will not grow weary of your grief. 

Types of Loss

  • Death of a Loved One
  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility 
  • Abortion
  • Death of a Pet
  • Divorce/Separation
  • Relationship Ending
  • Retirement
  • Empty Nest
  • Sudden death (to suicide)
  • Accidental death
  • Chronic Illness
  • Major Injury
  • Job Change
  • Relocation
  • Church Separation
This list is not exhaustive, there are many other events or experiences that can be considered a loss. 

Types of Grief

  • Normal
  • Anticipatory
  • Complicated
  • Chronic
  • Delayed
  • Distorted
  • Cumulative
  • Exaggerated
  • Disenfranchised (ambiguous)
  • Due to secondary loss
  • Masked 
  • Traumatic 
  • Collective
  • Inhibitive
  • Abbreviated
  • Absent

Christian Grief Counseling with Marybeth Steigenga, PhD

Marybeth believes her calling from God is to provide soul care to wounded, questioning, and struggling Christian believers so she chose the path of ordination and pastoral counseling. She is passionate about her faith and about your healing and soul care. Psalm 147:3 says that our Heavenly Father “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Christian Grief Counseling with Marybeth is relational, Biblical, gentle and validating. 

The Bible says that death is temporary. But death doesn’t feel temporary if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. Death seems final, dark and endless. Regardless of the length of your loved one’s life on earth, it wasn’t long enough. God did not originally intend for human beings to live a few years—or many years—on this earth and then die. God created human beings to live forever! Christians intellectually know that because Jesus died and rose again death will have an end. But in the human experience of grief it’s hard to fully embrace that reality. Death hurts—a lot! For Christians, the journey through grief is about embracing unbelievable pain and irrepressible hope at the same time

Grief is not predictable
Each person’s loss is unique; we cannot time and plot our reactions. Grief can be thought of as a roller coaster. It is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, times that we may think we are doing better and times that we are sure we are not. Our sense of progress may feel very uneven.

Grief impacts each of us differently
Because each loss is unique, we may experience a wide range of emotions. For some, the experience of grief may be physical: aches and pains, difficulty eating or sleeping, fatigue. Grief can affect our spiritual selves, too; our relationship with our faith beliefs may change or grow stronger.

Grief is full of different tasks and processes
As we cope with the emotional, physical, and spiritual reactions to the loss, we also work to accept the reality of the loss, redefine our beliefs in the face of this new reality, readjust to the daily changes in our lives, and decide the ways we will remember the person who died.

Grief does not mean the end of connection
Life will be different, and sometimes difficult; we need to be gentle with ourselves. But we always continue a bond with the person who has died. The lessening of grief is not the end of memory or attachment; death does not end a relationship.

Ambiguous and Disenfranchised Grief

Anyone who has lost somebody they love will likely agree the death of someone close usually causes a deep and painful grieving process. The people you care about typically validate these losses, understand they cause pain, and offer comfort and support. They don’t always give you what you need, but many at least try. But what about a loss in which nobody died? Does it count as grief?

Significant life-changing events like infertility, divorce and even a geographical move can cause us to feel deeply vulnerable and unsafe, because the world we knew, the people we relied on, and the perceptions of ourselves have changed because of what we have experienced. Grief is necessary to rebuild our world after it feels like it has been destroyed.
Ambiguous loss occurs when there is no emotional closure (Alzheimer’s, child goes to college, divorce, break up, adoption). Disenfranchised grief happens when a person’s loss is not supported by others (loss of a job, geographical move, death by suicide, miscarriage, death of a pet)
These two types (ambiguous loss and disenfranchised grief) take “grief rules” to another level by dictating who is entitled to grieve. This in turn, dictates who receives support, acknowledgment, and validation in their grief. The stinging pain of these societal expectations is excruciating when your relationship with someone significant is not acknowledged or the impact of the loss is minimized.

Using Art/Journaling in Grief

When you’ve had a significant loss, grieving can be overwhelming. Expressing your pain will help, and art can be one way to do that. Grief is a personal experience that’s often unique and intimate. What brings comfort to you in a time of grieving may differ from what helps someone else. Creating or connecting with art can be a healing experience for some people. Writing about your loss and your feelings may also help you cope with intrusive thoughts, negative emotions, and emotional overwhelm.

You don’t have to  be an artist or a writer to use them to express and heal. This grief project is shared with permission from the griever to show how powerful it can be to express yourself in non-traditional ways. 

Christian Grief Counseling at Joshua Tree Counseling