In recent years, our nation and communities have suffered great losses from senseless acts of violence, hate crimes, mass shootings, domestic violence, etc.  Each of us are touched by pain and loss on a regular basis even if we haven’t lost someone as violently and publicly as the recent horrific Orlando shooting. However, as we go through life, we realize that grief is not just from the inevitable loss of death but rather it is equally painful to suffer loss from other areas such as jobs, friendships, marriages, etc.  How we handle grief and loss is a personal journey and is different for each of us yet a lot of us seem stuck, unable to move through our pain and suffering.  Oftentimes, this is when additional guidance and support from a trained grief counselor is needed.

Despite the fact that a great deal of focus is put on bereavement grief, non-death related losses occur just as often and present similar challenges for clients. Grief is a journey. Loss is a journey. It is not about acceptance or “getting over,” but rather it is about awareness and integration. All losses are adjustments and require change, but how often do we think about the fact that all changes involve loss? This is one of the first things we learned about grief and loss through the research and writings of Robert A. Neimeyer. Everyone experiences loss and frequently the journey after loss is life-changing as we work to understand the meaning and purpose of the loss. In this way, loss is existential. It is also about discovering and embracing a new “normal.”  Yes, there is a grief cycle, but no two people progress through the stages in the same manner. There is no time frame set on how long this process takes, yet society only gives us 3-5 days and we are then expected to function “normally.” In many cultures, grief and loss are embraced and the process of mourning occurs over a year with various customs and symbolisms. Normative bereavement, or normative grieving after any loss typically involves both loss-focused and restoration focused tasks. Sometimes, however, we encounter situations in which the grief or loss was so traumatic, as perceived by the individual, that complicated grief or prolonged grief is experienced. Grief-specific therapy, in comparison to interpersonal therapy, has been shown to produce more favorable results in these instances.

Empowered Connections is now pleased to offer a special therapist Sherrye Urtz, MPH, LGPC who is trained and passionate about grief counseling.  Sherrye is a graduate of George Washington University with a Masters of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health. She also received a post graduate degree Certificate in Community Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. Sherrye has worked with a variety of clients of all ages in mental health settings including outpatient mental health services for children and adolescents, as well as women and families’ experiencing the loss of a child; particularly perinatal loss. She has been trained in trauma focused-cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) and grief and loss. Areas of interest include women’s health issues such as infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, traumatic birth experiences, birth and parenting after loss, loss as a result of suicide and other traumatic injuries. Children/adolescent interests include loss of a parent (due to death, divorce and other factors).  She is now accepting new clients so if you or a family member are struggling with grief or loss, please reach out to us to schedule a session with Sherrye.  She can be reached at 301-690-0779 or you can email us at